As reported in The Guardian newspaper the women of the 19th-century urban poor were not always faithful to their husbands (in contrast to their countryside sisters) according to some research published in the journal Current Biology.
The authors of the paper conducted research where they compared the Y chromosomes of 513 pairs of men who supposedly share a common ancestor. Their aim was to discover what the prevalence was of what they called “extra-pair paternity” over the past 500 years – in other words, they were looking at how many times in the family trees of these 513 pairs of men that the father named on the birth certificate differed from the actual biological father.
I wonder how many people discover from doing a DNA ancestor test that they are not related biologically to the ancestors they had thought that they were from doing the paper trail research in the records?
I was browsing the news email from The National Archives that I got this week and noticed that there are some really interesting events coming up. Here are just three that caught my eye.
The Song of Simon de Montfort 23 Jan, 19:30. Explore Simon De Montfort’s life as a great warrior, devoted family man, charismatic political leader and paragon of knightly piety through original documents.
Dependence, intolerance and expulsion 24 Jan, 14:00. Learn about the stories of Medieval Jewish communities and why they fled England despite the protection of the Crown. This talk marks Holocaust Remembrance Day 2020 (27 January).
My dad, one-time Merchant Navy Purser John Bryan Thorne, and myself last year on a visit to the Cutty Sark in Greenwich.
I have been mourning the loss of my father for the last month. He was very dear to me and the rest of our family and we were sad to have lost him on the 12th of April 2019.
Immediately there was much to do in arranging the winding up of his affairs – but some of these made me realise that we were in the process of laying down some new breadcrumbs for future genealogists to follow.
Amongst the duties I had to perform was to make sure that the registering of the death got the details completely correct including the spelling of his names and place of birth. As the death certificate was produced in the registrar’s office, and printed off there and then, I realised that my name and details were now forever recorded as the person registering my father’s death. Being a family historian, I couldn’t help but wondered if sometime in the future others would use the document to trace our family line back.
Then there was the matter of placing the family notice in the local newspapers. The funeral director asked for the wording we wanted to use. I felt strongly that it should definitely include our first names when listing the near family. Again, I wanted to make sure that it was easy for future generations to determine if they were researching the correct person and to easily find out the names of his children and his granddaughter.
The surprise in the neighbourhood
When sorting through his meticulous filing cabinet to find his birth certificate, bank accounts and utility details I was moved to discover that he had a personal file that included my own birth certificate from 60 years ago and his Second World War service in the Merchant Navy.
There was also his 1962 marriage certificate to my stepmother in Mosley, Birmingham as well as his 1951 wedding certificate to my late mother, that had taken place in St Andrew’s Cathedral in Singapore. This last document I had never seen before and it is very precious to me as I have no idea how I would go about ordering a copy from the former British Colony and now Republic of Singapore.
Wedding photograph from Singapore 1951
To my utter surprise the Cathedral’s bells, that he would have heard ring out on his wedding day to my mum, were back in Loughborough at this very time for re-tuning and the addition of two extra bells to the peel. My sister had just taken a tour of John Taylor & Co. Bell Foundry and had seen them in the works just 11 or so miles away from Dad’s house. Naturally I paid them a visit with the kind help of the staff at John Taylor & Co. and was able to touch the bells that were a little part of my own family history.
St Andrew’s Cathedral, Singapore (Wikipedia Someformofhuman. [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)])
In 1889, St Andrew’s Cathedral had received a peal of eight bells from the family of Captain J. S. H. Fraser, H.E.I.C.S. These bronze bells were cast at the John Taylor & Co. Foundry in Loughborough, England, the same bell foundry that cast the bells of St Paul’s Cathedral in London, England and then sent out to Singapore. These eight bells have been rung every Sunday for services, weddings, funerals, Easter and Christmas. You can read more on the foundry’s website here: http://taylorbells.co.uk/project/st-andrews-cathedral/
With life inevitably carrying on for those of us left behind, a holiday that I had booked well before he had become ill came around on my calendar. As an Architect and a Watercolour artist he had told me of the beauty of Florence and the wonder of Brunelleschi’s Dome and had been excited to hear that I was to visit it this year.
I have, therefore, just returned from a few days holiday in Florence Italy. After climbing the 463 steps to the dome I then went into the body of the Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore and lit a candle to remember the life of my very dear dad.
Votive Candle holder in Florence Cathedral, Italy (Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore)
I’ve just been out of circulation for a couple of weeks. An elderly parent of mine has been very sick with a diagnosis that holds out little hope and so I did what any concerned son would do, I packed a bag and travelled home to be with them.
These days we have the luxury of fast travel – in my case it was a 50 minute flight from Jersey in the Channel Islands to East Midlands Airport, close to my parent’s place in North West Leicestershire.
But this got me thinking about how my ancestors would have coped in the circumstances. Some of them lived in Britain while their offspring had fled the coup to try their hand “Out East”, in Singapore, Ceylon (Sri Lanka) and India.
It would have been a mammoth journey to get back to England by ship from these parts before air-travel had made it less time consuming. Even in the 1950s, when I am told my Dad flew back to Europe from Singapore, it was a long drawn out affair with several hotel stops on the way.
But what would the Victorians and Georgians have done? Well there was little alternative to booking a passage on a ship – and then it could be months to return to “Blighty”. This doesn’t even take into account the length of time for the sick message to have got out to them in the first place. In our modern world of communication and travel we just don’t realise how cut off some of our ancestors must have felt when their grownup children were off in another part of the world.
I’ve been looking at the passenger lists online this week and wondering what the stories were behind some of the reasons to travel that these folk had. There are several decades of outgoing passenger lists to be found on several websites including that of TheGenealogist, whom I write articles for on a paid for basis and so that is why I include a link to them. You may, of course, search other sources to find your forebears in the Board of Trade Passenger Lists and marvel at just how long it took the past generations to travel anywhere!
I came across this while browsing The Brickwall Club‘s Facebook page and I thought it was worthy of sharing with my own blog readers who may be researching their British family tree. The resource is great for any of you out there who had ancestors that served in the British Merchant Navy (MN) in 1915, at the time of the First World War.
The site explains that this is the first time ever that the Crew Lists of the British Merchant Navy from the year 1915 have been digitised and made available to search for free. It suggests that using their search box you can find relatives and loved ones via their database of over 39,000 crew lists and featuring over 750,000 names.
The National Maritime Museum says that as there are no records for individual merchant seafarers from this period, that the records that they are making available are of international significance in highlighting the vital contribution made by the Merchant Navy during the First World War. They go on to state that these records are also of great value to family historians, as one of the few sources of information about seafaring ancestors active in 1915.
There is a good short description on the website that explains what the Merchant Navy is as well as what crew lists are. So if you have discovered in your family tree a merchant seaman (or woman, as there were some female crew members) then it is worth a look even if you don’t have a mariner from 1915 as an ancestor.
Disclosure: Please note this post contains affiliate links.*
TheGenealogist is adding to its Court and Criminal Records collection with the release of almost 150,000 entries for prisoners locked up in Newgate prison along with any alias they were known by as well as the names of their victims. Sourced from the HO 26 Newgate Prison Registers held by The National Archives, these documents were created over the years 1791 to 1849.
Newgate Gaol, London from TheGenealogist’s Image Archive
The Newgate Prison Registers give family history researchers details of ancestors who were imprisoned in the fearsome building that once stood next to the Old Bailey in the City of London. The records reveal the names of prisoners, offences the prisoner had been convicted for, the date of their trial and where they were tried. The records also give the name of the victims and any alias that the criminals may have used before.
Use the Newgate Prison Registers records to:
Find ancestors guilty of crimes ranging from theft, highway robbery, libel and murder
Discover the victims of crime
Uncover some of the aliases used by criminal ancestors
See descriptions of offenders with details of their height, eye colour and complexion
*Disclosure: Please note this post contains affiliate links. This does notmean that you pay more just that I make a percentage on the sales from my links. The payments help me pay for the cost of running the site. You may like to read this explanation here:
With the success of the Discover Your Ancestors Family History Shows’ sell-out London event the organisers have now announced the introduction of a new South-West of England Show to be held in the Exhibition Centre at the University of West of England, Bristol.
The organisers have some great offers on these new shows and they now all feature an enhanced format.
The Family History Show South-West event will be held on Saturday July 6th 2019
With low prices for both exhibitors and attendees, it is a really affordable event for all
Featuring fascinating Free Family History Talks
A dedicated Ask the Experts section
Wide variety of exhibitors from societies and genealogical suppliers
With expert speakers talking on a wide range of topics to help your research. A final ‘Ask the experts’ Question and Answer session in the lecture theatre will round off the show.
Show Dates:- York 22nd June – South West 6th July – London 24th August
2019 will see the extremely popular Ask the Experts section at all of The Family History Shows events, along with the ever popular lecture theatres with expert genealogical speakers. Free talks will be held throughout the day by DNA experts, Military Historians and other experts at each event.
You can see a video of interviews with some of the many happy exhibitors at The Family History Show, London to see how well received these events are. Comments from the stall holders included just how busy they had been throughout the day and what a friendly environment the venue had been. Other exhibitors mentioned what an excellent fair it had been with a good turn out and many interesting stalls that had engaged and impressed those visiting the event.
Take a look at the video on their website (or on YouTube) along with another recorded with International Genealogical Blogger, Dick Eastman, who shares his views on the London show: https://thefamilyhistoryshow.com/london/
The large crowds of show visitors testified to the public’s willingness to support both the York and the London events. In fact The Family History Show, London doubled its size in 2018 and drew visitors from all over.
To celebrate the announcement of the new South-West show there is a fantastic offer for exhibitors who books tables at both York and London: a Buy one get one Free on tables booked for the South-West event. But hurry this offer will only last till the end of January 2019!
Sponsorship packages are also available.
Tickets for The Family History Show South-West are just £5.50 or two for £8 in advance; or £6 on the door, making The Family History Show a very reasonably priced event.
The show will be promoted in print, radio and online/social media.
I’m writing this after a fabulous day at The Family History Show, London that took place at Sandown Park in Esher yesterday. It was really well attended by people searching for family history answers or to listen to a talk or take advantage of the Ask the Experts. What was immediately apparent was how the event has grown significantly since its first appearance on the calendar last year. For 2018 the show moved into the larger Surrey Hall making space for more exhibitors ranging from Family History Societies to genealogical suppliers and boasting two lecture theatres this year.
While some people on social media have pedantically pointed out that Sandown Park, where this took place, is not strictly in London I did hear that the race course themselves consider that they are a London Venue and market themselves accordingly. Certainly it was extremely good value for the area with tickets on the day only £7 and with some great online for early birds meaning you could have picked up a ticket for £5 or TWO tickets for £7.50. Whatever your standpoint on the argument, I don’t think those who came in their droves were disappointed.
Some of the highlights:
Dick Eastman, the highly respected international genealogical blogger gave the keynote speech.
Tips & Tricks for Online Research talk was delivered by Professional Researcher & Social Historian, Keith Gregson and as always went down well
Tracing Your Military Ancestors talk was another popular part of the show with Military Expert & Professional Researcher, Chris Baker
Photo Dating with Jayne Shrimpton, Photo Expert and Fashion Historian I noticed to be well attended
Mark Bayley from TheGenealogist packed out the theatre with his well received Breaking Down Brick Walls
MyHeritage gave a talk on using DNA to Trace Your Ancestry
And Graham Walter spoke on the 5 Killer Apps for Mobile Genealogy
Finding help from a family history society and being able to buy some of their publications, or talking to the MOD medals experts were more reasons that this show worked well, not to mention being able to pick up all sorts of other reading material from Discover Your Ancestors Magazine or Family Tree Magazine. If you bought one or two of these then you may even find one or two of my articles in them.
I was very interested to see several authors of genealogical books taking table stands this year including some that I follow and read avidly.
This event was well organised and I am so pleased to hear them announce that it will be back in 2019. I will come back without hesitation!
The latest online periodical from Discover Your Ancestors has been released and this month I have contributed an article about a terrible Victorian murder that took place in St Giles-in-the-Fields, London.
What had drawn me to this research was the scene of the crime – a big house in what was by this time a very poor area. Built for a Richard Dyott before 1665, the house had one been a large respectable dwelling of three stories. By the 1800s, however, it had descended the social scale and was now part of a private landlord’s portfolio of accommodation for the poor and where a bed could be rented for the night in exchange for 3d.
Image from The Illustrated London News October 16, 1858 retrieved from TheGenealogist Newspaper and Magazine records
I had not intended to write about the murder that took place there, and the records I found that could identify some of the characters in the trail of the accused. Initially I was fascinated by how an area where an ancestor lived can rise and fall in fortunes and was investigating this. Soon, though, the murder at Dyott’s House took over my attention!
Life and work at the beach: Jayne Shrimpton dips a toe into the history of bathing machines, changing tents and beach huts Murder in the rookeries: Nick Thorne investigates a gruesome death in St Giles, London Sniffing out the past: Ruth A Symes considers some olfactory routes into family history Going for gold: The 19th century saw gold discovered in America and Canada – and people flocked from Britain to find their fortune in the goldfields. Nell Darby digs deeper The two clairvoyants who failed to tell their own fortunes: An Edwardian trial used legislation from larceny to witchcraft to prosecute a husband and wife palm-reading team, writes Nell Darby History in the details: Jayne Shrimpton on watches
Disclosure: Please note this post contains affiliate links.
I was asked to put together an article on Buckinghamshire Tithe Maps this week as TheGenealogist has added more Colour Tithe Maps from The National Archives to their National Tithe Records collection. With this release researchers can see the plots owned or occupied by ancestors that lived in this ‘home county’ at the time of the survey in the 19th century on colour plans.
The new data includes:
Over 40,000 Plots of Land covering the years from 1837 to 1855 with some much later plans of altered apportionments
Joining the apportionment record books and the previously published grey-scale maps
These tagged colour maps and their fully searchable tithe schedule records are from those held at The National Archives. The collection gives the family history researcher the ability to search by name and keyword (for example parish or county) to look for all levels of society from large estate owners to occupiers of tiny plots such as a cottage or a cowshed.