Imaginary view of an Elizabethan stage
By C. Walter Hodges [CC BY 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
I came across this interesting video by David Crystal and his son, actor Ben Crystal. In it they look at the differences between English pronunciation as we would speak it today and compare it with how it was spoken 400 years ago.
As family historians we are often told how English spelling was a lot more fluid in past times and that not all our ancestors would have known how to spell their surnames, thus they seem to disappear from the records. We are also warned that the clergy and local registrars may have written our ancestor’s names into the registers etc. spelling these as they had thought that they had heard them, especially when so many of our forebears couldn’t read or write. In my Family History Researcher Course I explain how to consider how a name may have sounded in the local accent.
Now in this video we are told that in Elizabethan and Jacobean times the pronunciation of the language written by Shakespeare was quite different from modern English. Watch this video below to see and hear how it sounded back then and how it makes more sense of some of his pieces. It is truly fascinating how language evolves!
Find your elusive ancestors in the online and offline records. Discover where to look and what records sets to use in the English/Welsh family history course from The Family History Researcher Academy.
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10am to 4.30pm
The Knavesmire Exhibition Centre, The Racecourse, York, YO23 1EX
The second largest Family History Fair in the UK is in its 21st year. With exhibitors from all over the UK and Ireland many family history societies and companies attend each year.
You don’t have to have Yorkshire Ancestors to come to this fair – they can be from anywhere at all. Everyone is very welcome and there is lots to see. There is plenty of parking, refreshments are available all day, with exhibitors on two floors and FREE talks held throughout the day.
This event is organised by family historians for family historians. Do you really know who you are? Come and find out – you may be surprised.
Chose between two great ticket offers on www.yorkshirefamilyhistoryfair.com/
FREE gift when you pre-book tickets Claim your Discover Your Ancestors Issue 4 and Discover Your Ancestors Compendium (worth £17.94) at the show
Buy One Ticket and Get One Free
(offers valid until Wednesday 29th June at midday BST)
See you at The Knavesmire Exhibition Centre, The Racecourse, York, YO23 1EX.
Admission: Adults £4.80, Children under 14 FREE
For late availability on exhibitor space contact firstname.lastname@example.org
This week the team over at TheGenealogist announced the completion of thier project to release fully searchable Norfolk Parish Records online. For anyone with ancestors from this county this is brilliant news.
- Over 6.23 million new searchable Norfolk Parish Records released in partnership with the Norfolk Record Office
- This final tranche includes over 5.95 million records for Norfolk
- Plus more than 276,000 records relating to the boundary areas of Suffolk
- Adding to the 3.6 million individuals already released earlier
TheGenealogist has successfully completed a project to release over 9.8 million fully searchable records for the registers of baptisms, marriages, marriage banns and burials for Norfolk with images of the original registers.
It is now easier than ever to research Norfolk ancestors in the parish registers of this Eastern English county. With some of the surviving records reaching back as far as the early 1500s, this is a fantastically rich resource for family historians to use for discovering Norfolk ancestors.
Released in partnership with The Norfolk Record Office, the registers of baptisms, marriages, burials and banns of marriage cover the majority of parishes in the Diocese of Norwich. This also includes a number of Suffolk parishes in and near Lowestoft that make up the deanery of Lothingland. Also covered by this release are the parishes in the deanery of Fincham and Feltwell that were part of the Diocese of Ely in south-west Norfolk.
Examples of famous people to be found in these records include:
Edith Cavell, the First World War Nurse executed by the Germans for treason was born in the South Norfolk village of Swardeston. Her baptism can be found in the register of Swardeston for February 1866 where her father was the vicar and performed the christening ceremony. With a single click family historians can see an image of the actual entry in the parish register.
Edith Cavell’s baptism record in the Norfolk Parish Register on TheGenealogist
Likewise, Horatio Nelson – who would grow up to become perhaps Britain’s best known naval hero of all time – was also baptised by his clergyman father. In Nelson’s case it was in the the village of Burnham Thorpe on the North Norfolk coast in 1758.
Another British seafaring hero, whose baptism can be found in the Norfolk parish records on TheGenealogist, is Henry George Blogg. He would grow up to become known as the “Greatest of the Lifeboatmen” and be highly decorated. In his case, however, it was not his father that baptised him. His entry in the register reveals a less than auspicious entry of this Norfolk hero into the world – the vicar wrote in the parish register of Cromer that Henry was “base born”. Blogg, however, became a skilled seaman and a lifeboatman. For the many rescues, that he took part in as the coxswain of the Cromer lifeboat, he was awarded the gold medal of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution no less than three times and also the RNLI silver medal four times. He was also honoured with the George Cross from the King, the British Empire Medal, and a series of other awards.
Five years after his birth, Henry’s mother, Ellen Blogg, married a fisherman called John Davies. It was this stepfather that taught Henry how to fish and the skills that he needed to be a highly competent seafarer. The marriage banns for Henry’s mother and stepfather can be found in the Banns book for the parish, within the new records on TheGenealogist. Their actual marriage can also be found recorded in the parish register for Cromer included in this new release. See the records at: www.thegenealogist.co.uk
To search these any countless other useful family history records take a look at TheGenealogist now!
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TheGenealogist has just launched a new collection of British telephone directories. Complementing the early UK Telephone Directory from 1899-1900 that is already available on TheGenealogist, this new release includes the 1907 Post Office National Directory which adds a resource for finding names and addresses before the 1911 census. This directory was published at a time when the telephone was becoming more important to our ancestors. The Post Office’s first coin-operated call box had been installed at London’s Ludgate Circus just the year before, and Trunk (long distance) telephone charges were reduced to half-price for telephone calls made after 7pm and before 7am.
In addition, and at the same time, TheGenealogist has released the 1938 South Wales District Post Office Telephone Directory. The big contrast between this and the earlier directories are that so many more ordinary people had become telephone subscribers. For this reason the directories were by now split up into regions to cope with the large number of names and addresses.
- Containing names and address details for subscribers the telephone directories are a useful resource for discovering ancestors who had a phone
- Find private names and small businessmen’s addresses. If your ancestor worked as a fishmonger, butcher, ironmonger or bootmaker, then all these and more feature in the fascinating records.
- The difference between the turn of the century directories and the 1938 South Wales District Directory is marked by the number of new telephone subscribers, so making it possible to find many more ancestor’s names and addresses.
In a snapshot example from the 1907 Post Office National Directory we can see that in Cardiff that subscribers included various business including a furniture remover and funeral director, fruit merchants, fishmonger, a commercial traveller and some private individuals.
1907 Post Office National Directory.
By the late 1930s the various regions now contained tightly packed names and addresses with many more private subscribers for the family historian to research.
1938 Post Office Directory for Cardiff.
TheGenealogist has also just released online the United States WWII Prisoner of War records to compliment those that are already online for British and former Empire Prisoners of War of the Germans in WWI and WWII.
- These new records reveal the names of U.S. military as well as U.S. and some Allied civilians who were prisoners of war and internees
- Covering the years 1942 – 1947, Prisoners of both Germany and Japan are included in this collection
- The record for each prisoner provides:
- Casualty status
- Service number
- PoW camp
- Regiment, branch of service or civilian status
- Home town or place of enlistment
- Date reported
- State of residence
Searching these PoW records we can find Robert A. “Bob” Hoover, the former air show pilot and United States Air Force test pilot. Known as the “pilot’s pilot”, Hoover transformed aerobatic flying in his time and many in the world of aviation saw him as one of the greatest pilots ever to have lived. In the Second World War he was a fighter pilot.
Robert A “Bob” Hoover by WPPilot (Own work)
[CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
During World War II, Hoover was posted to Casablanca where he test flew the assembled aircraft to ensure that they were ready for service. Later in the war he was re-assigned to the Spitfire-equipped American 52d Fighter Group in Sicily. In 1944, and on his 59th mission of the conflict, his malfunctioning Mark V Spitfire was shot down by a German plane off the coast of Southern France. Taken prisoner, he then spent 16 months at the German prison camp Stalag Luft 1 in Barth, Germany, which we can see from these new records on TheGenealogist.
These records are derived from the National Archives and Records Administration, World War II Prisoners of War, 1941-1946.
In another record release TheGenealogist have added over 37,450 individuals to their Baptism Transcripts for Worcestershire in partnership with Malvern Family History Society, expanding their coverage and bringing the total to over 2 million individuals. These records range from the years 1544 to 1891.
To search these records take a look now at TheGenealogist now.
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In this month’s Discover Your Ancestors online periodical I have had published an article I wrote on the well-loved comedienne Victoria Wood.
I discover that she was descended from a war hero who had been awarded the Croix de Guerre by the King of Belgium and a look at her family shows us that it was made up of a number of determined characters!
I also discover that Victoria had a lonely childhood without friends. If you read my piece I am sure your heart strings will be tugged at to find that, as a child, only one person turned up to her birthday party – all the other kids having better things to do on the day, like playing on their bikes!
I look at an error in the General Register Office records that misspells her mother’s maiden name on Victoria’s birth record. It is a good example of how even oﬃcial primary records can contain mistakes and a lesson to us all to think creatively when we can’t find someone in the data.
I explain where to find the records, that I made use of to trace the family, so that you could apply the techniques in your own family history research.
We also discover some fascinating facts about her father. He turns out to have a number of more interesting strings to his bow than you might have expected from an average insurance claims inspector.
Also in this month’s Discover Your Ancestors Periodical Dr Simon Wills examines the wreck of the SS London 150 years on, Jocelyn Robson investigates a woman who faked her own death, and there is much much more to read.
Visit their website to buy your copy today.
You can also read some sample articles before you buy (including this one on Victoria Wood) by clicking on the articles tab while you are there! So take a look now at Discover Your Ancestors.
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Wills are great for family historians finding out what land, or other more personal possessions, your ancestors had and so building your family tree. The genealogical information that they can often supply is often a huge bonus. It is worth remembering that any names and details of relationships that are found in a will are those supplied by the ancestor themselves and so can be expected to be a highly accurate source for you.
A will furnishes the researcher with an approximate date of death for an ancestor, which can be helpful if you were uncertain of this from your other research. For example, if you had not been able to trace a death record or a burial because you have found several candidates with the same name as your ancestor, then at least a will may give you the evidence of the year of death of your ancestor and so can point you to the correct entry in the parish register.
Another point to remember is that a will may provide you with a whole list of nephews, nieces, grandchildren, cousins and so on. Especially if the departed was intent on spreading their bequests more broadly around than just their nearest kin.
In my own ancestor’s cases, for the wills that I have traced so far, I have found that many of my own forebears were a little unimaginative and kept it short and sweet, leaving all to spouse and children! Yet, in other wills that I have researched that do not belong to my family, I have seen legacies in abundance.
These bequests can be used to confirm family relationships that have previously been deduced from records of birth or baptism. One of the great virtues of wills are that they spell out the relationship to the testator of everyone mentioned. For example bequests to a married daughter, or her children, should make it possible to identify the record of daughter’s marriage and the baptisms of the ancestor’s grandchildren.
From a will you can often find out about debts owed to and debts owed by your ancestor. You may discover something about their business dealings or whether they owned land, houses, or other property.
You may find out about the personal property that they held dear as it gets mentioned in separate bequests. I have seen a Welsh will in which the deceased left a watch to a relative and specified that they were not to sell it!
One other highly valuable thing about a will is that it may also provide information on the occupation and social status of an ancestor, indicate the closeness or otherwise of the relationship to a spouse and children, and may allow you to identify, in the present day, a house or land owned by the family in the past.
If you want to learn more about these fascinating documents then The Family History Researcher Academy course on English/Welsh family history has a module on this and many more resources that you can use.
This week my attention was drawn to a site on the web that allows people to upload a transcribed will to. This then allows other family history researchers to search for a will and read the transcription rather than struggle with the handwritten original. I wish them well with this project as I am sure it will be of great use to those who can find an ancestor’s will amongst those that have been transcribed.
This is what the site says about itself:
This site contains a number of transcripts which it is to be hoped will grow. Anyone who has transcribed a pre-1900 will is invited to contribute to this site which is searchable by Testator, Executor or Administrator, or Witness. It is hoped that ultimately there will be a large number of transcripts which may assist family historians in their research and also those who are interested in local history and the families who lived in a particular locality. The site is completely free and material on it is not to be used for commercial purposes. Please do not copy anything without the permission of the transcriber.
Some years back I began to look into a side of my family that was from Scotland, although at the time I had no idea which part they came from. Quickly, I found, some of their roots were in Midlothian and also in the City of Edinburgh where they appeared to be merchants.
Following them further back in time I found that they were descendants of the lairds of Hope, an estate in the hills to the south of Edinburgh. To my delight, I found the first laird of Hopes marriage in the Scotlandspeople records for Kirk of Halyroodhous (sic), Edinburgh in 4 August 1664. I then discovered a privately published book about the family in the Society of Genealogists Library in London and this gave me a line of ancestors to follow on a visit to Scotland.
As I have been thinking about doing more research on this branch of the family I was, therefore, very happy to recently get my hands on the book by Alan Stewart called Tracing Your Edinburgh Ancestors published by Pen & Sword.
I learnt a huge amount about the local history of Edinburgh from this book, as well as discovering where to look for records pertaining to the City and its villages. Alan Stewart combines a great deal of the ancient history of the area as well as modern historical information and the all important genealogical data and where to look for it.
Part one of the book explains the history of Edinburgh from the volcanic activity, that is responsible for its geography, through the Ice Age and the Romans to the setting out of the Old Town and the New Town. From reading this book I now understand the way Edinburgh spread and how it incorporated Leith and the surrounding villages into its borders.From the second part of the book I was able to build my understanding of the family history records, that can be used to trace ancestors from the area. The explanations of the differences in them, when compared to their English and Welsh counterparts, clarified a great deal for me. Out of the chapters, in part two, I would just like to highlight how useful I found the sections on wills and inheritance records, to make sense of my own research into my Edinburgh folk. Now I understand what a Sasine record was. I had previously seen mentioned, in the privately published family history book I had found in the Society of Genealogist Library, that one of my ancestors, Edmund Hay of Hopes, obtained his lands in 1653 from his father according to a sasine dated that year. Alan Stewart’s book has made it clear what this is and that they have been digitised and are available to view on “virtual volumes” at the National Records of Scotland.
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The Family History Researcher Academy revises its popular course to celebrate its 3rd birthday!
He saw that many family history researchers would benefit from a set of accessible guides.
Tutorials that would show the student how to master the many record collections and the various resources that are out there.
With the extra knowledge gained, from this course, many could easily discover their English/Welsh ancestors, both on and offline.
Nick, has researched family trees for private clients, worked on various projects for one of the leading British genealogical research websites, and is also a regular writer in Discover Your Ancestors Bookazine and its sister monthly online periodical. He writes case-study articles, published in several of the monthly British family history magazines, which reveal the best way to make the most of the records sets on a top data subscription site.
His English/Welsh Family History course has had tremendous feedback, from those who bought the training consisting of 52 weekly lessons that are delivered by email for the students to complete at their own pace. The modules explore the different resources, data sets and documents that reveal more about English or Welsh ancestry and allow the reader to become a much better informed researcher. Written from a practical point of view, with various lessons contributed by professional genealogists, online data experts and by Nick himself, it has been revised for 2016.
Nick Thorne said: “Three years ago I took much of the knowledge that I myself had learned and began writing tutorials to help others. I soon found that people were very appreciative and eager to discover more and so the Family History Researcher Academy course was born.
The tutorials help you to understand where to look for records and introduce you to the collections or archives that you may have overlooked.”
Examples of unsolicited testimonials received and reproduced with the senders permission:
“I am finding the course very useful, even though I have being doing family history for many years.” Kind regards, H.Stephens.
“I would like to thank you for the resources, which I have received weekly, they are very interesting and informative, also a big thank you for the brilliant customer service .” P.Beilby.
“Hi Nick. Thank you very much for this series. I have learnt such a lot and it has increased my knowledge considerably.” A.Vallis.
“The lessons are very good and I would recommend them to anyone” M.Lynn.
“You communicate in an understandable way! Just wanted to thank you for the 52 very interesting lessons. I have them all indexed and saved and will refer back on a regular basis. I very much enjoyed the snippets of social history around the subject, this is so important when doing your own history.” P.Martin.
Topics covered in the 12 months include:
The Family History Researcher Academy is offering a Special Offer Trial of just £1 for a month.
Receive 4 modules plus bonus content by going to: http://www.familyhistoryresearcher.com/trialoffer/
(Normal monthly subscription: £9.95 per month. Course length: 52 weekly downloadable tutorials to do at your own pace. You are free to cancel at any time.)
Or if you wish to pay in US dollars then I am currently offering a $1 trail for a month, consisting of four lessons, and then $14 a month for as long as you wish to remain, or until I’ve sent you lesson 52 (which ever is the sooner).
To pay in U.S. Dollars: http://www.familyhistoryresearcher.com/specialoffer/
I was trying to explain, over the phone to a friend this weekend, what parish records were.
My friend’s understanding of family history was more or less at the beginners stage and so I found myself explaining how the parish is the smallest local administrative area in England and Wales even today.
In modern times a parish council looks after a civil parish that can range in size from a large town with a population of around 80,000 to a single village with fewer than a hundred inhabitants and is not connected to the church parish at all.
As confusion between this civil administration and the church parish had, by now, crept into our conversation I had to point there was a difference. The modern parish council was distinct from a parochial church council, which is the executive committee of a Church of England parish. This parochial church council had come out of the old parish vestry committee, which it had replaced in 1921.
Having got those two clear in his mind I then muddied the waters when I explained that this hasn’t always been the case and that at one time the church parish was also the arm of local government!
It is believed that parishes have been in existence from Saxon times (9th century) when they grew up around the Minsters.
For family historians the three most important records, at a parish level, are normally referred to collectively as the Parish Registers. They contain the names of our ancestors’ Baptismal records, Marriage records and their Burials. In England and Wales the parish register system, administered by the Church of England, had been in operation since 1538 and the reign of Henry VIII.
Older registers will have been written in Latin and so we may need to be able to translate that language. There are various tools on the internet that may help, not the least of which is Google’s translation tool.
Even those later records, which are written in English, can vary tremendously in their readability and the amount, or lack of, information that they provide.
Sadly for family historians, many older parish records have not survived through time and so we cant expect to find full records for each parish that we are researching back to 1538.
With that proviso in place – a surprising number of parish records have endured.
Once a parish register is full it will normally find its way to be housed at the local Diocesan Office (often the County Record Office, but beware when a diocese covers more than one county). To avoid too much wear and tear, on these valuable old books, most have been microfilmed and can be viewed in the record office on microfilm readers and some have made it online at the large subscription sites.
If you want to learn more then I explain more about parish records in a lesson within the Family History Researcher course.
Many people will be aware of the Parish Registers and how useful they are, but not so many of us would be able to name all of the lesser used Parish records that would have found a place within the parish chest in our ancient parish churches.
Here are some other records that could be in the parish chest records for your ancestor’s parish and which I regaled my friend with in our telephone call:
The Churchwardens Accounts
Glebe Terriers and Tithe Records
Charity Accounts (possibly not of a great deal of use to family historians!)
Petty Constables Accounts
Various other miscellaneous records
I had to stress to my friend that it is by no means certain that these documents will have survived the ravages of time, but that if they have then the originals should now be stored away safely at the relevant County Record Office for the church in question.
Cheekily, I suggested that he take out a subscription to my 52 weekly tutorial Family History Researcher Course to learn more – especially as he could have the first month for £1 (normal monthly subscription is £9.95 thereafter for the next 11 months. Cancel at any time, no questions asked and no hoops to jump through).
To pay in sterling: http://www.familyhistoryresearcher.com/trialoffer/
I think he thought this was me offering “mates rates”, but actually it is my current offer to everyone. If you wish to pay in US dollars then I am currently offering a $1 trail for a month, consisting of four lessons, and then $14 a month for as long as you wish to remain, or until I’ve sent you lesson 52 which ever is the sooner.
To pay in U.S. Dollars: http://www.familyhistoryresearcher.com/specialoffer/