Well! Problems with my internet connection means I have to post a very short update today before it drops out again!
So I shall keep it simple…
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The question, that he had, was would it be likely that it was a family surname from one of the female lines and being passed down to honour that family connection.
From what research I have done, by reading around, it would seem thatÂ it was quite common for children to be baptised with a second name taken from a family surname that was, perhaps, the mother’s or grandmother’s maiden surname.
Mark Herber, in Ancestral Trials, The History Press; New Ed edition (1 Jun 2005) makes this point when introducing genealogical research in chapter 1 of this comprehensive book. But hold on a minute, before you jump to the conclusion that the name you have found must be attributable to another branch of your family.
In the picture, that I have included here, from a Thorne family bibleÂ just one of that generation were given names that honoured their forebears surnames and that was Ellen Florence Malzer Thorne, the Malzer name being her mother’s maiden name.
The generation before (Henry Thomas Thorne’s siblings)Â were given a variety of conventional second names until the family broke with the C of E and became members of the Flavel Memorial (Presbyterian/Independent/Congregational) church.
At this stage several of Henry’s brothers and sisters were baptised with the middle name of Lemon. I am yet to understand who they were being named after so if any of my readers can put me on the right path then post a comment below or on my facebook page: www.facebook.com/NoseGenealogist
Certainly the parents of these children, John Brandon Thorn and Elizabeth Gardiner Thorn, were usefully named after their mothers and so made the search for them in the parish records all the easier.
So the conclusion is that an unusual middle name may point you to the maiden name of your ancestor or, regretfully, it may not!
Another point, that I have noticed, is that people may adopt a middle name and later generations begin passing it on as they assume it to be an ancestral name. Perhaps it was someone that they admired greatly, or perhaps it was indeed a family name.
For someone I was researching this week I discovered that they were not given a middle name in the church register when they were baptised and yet they begin to use this middle name and so do the generations that followed. Perhaps it was someone that they admired greatly, but it was certainly not noted in the parish register at the time of their baptism!
My research this week has been greatly helped by the fact that more parish records have made it online. My friend’s family were from the Birmingham area of Northfields. Now very much a suburb of Birmingham but in the years I was researching between 1769 and 1820 part of the county of Worcestershire.
At the Who Do You Think You Are? LIVE show, on the Pen & Sword stand, I was able to catch up with genealogist and author Anthony Adolph as he signed copies of his new book: Tracing Your Aristocratic Ancestors.
He graciously allowed me an interview afterwards and, as always, you can just tell the passion that he holds for his subject.
Watch my short video below and hear his argument that we all have aristocratic ancestors!
That being the case then, this book should appeal to every family historian.
To buy your copy now go to:
Tracing Your Aristocratic Ancestors: A Guide for Family Historians
Disclosure: This is a compensated affiliate link which may reward me should you purchase.
I was due to meet Anthony Adolph at the Who Do You Think you Are? LIVE show where he was signing copies of his book: Tracing Your Aristocratic Ancestors: A Guide for Family Historians, available now by clicking the link.
As he began signing the books on the Pen & Sword stand he was joined by the Princess Maria Sviatopolk-Mirski, a Russian Princess who had grown up in straiten circumstances and now lives in London.
She has now traced her family history back and finds that her family had once had possession of Mir Castle in Belarus. Her success in finding her aristocratic ancestry is one that many family historians would like to replicate!
Hope you have had a Merry Christmas and are looking forward to the new year.
I took advantage of the holiday time to take a look at the Plymouth and West Devon Parish Records on the Find My Past website. Here you can view the actual scanned documents from the archive in Plymouth if you have a subscription or buy some pay as you go credits.
Although I already have copies of the GRO certificates it is interesting to also look at the church registers and glean some extra information. I got several pieces of extra information on one set of ancestors that I had not got before, from carrying out this exercise. I’ll keep these for further article posts!
One of the interesting finds from looking at the scanned church register was that they were married according to the Rites and Ceremonies of the Established Church “by Superintendent Registrar’s Certificate.
A while back, in my family history research, I came across a marriage “by certificate” in my family tree in Portsmouth.
In the year 1859 my 2x great grandfather, Henry Thorne married Ellen Malser in Portsea, Hampshire. By all accounts it was in a church of the Church of England and according to their rites, but I was mystified by the fact it was not either by banns or by licence.
My investigation at the time indicted that â€œby certificateâ€ usually meant that the ceremony was conducted by a Registrar. This being common in nonconformist church weddings and at registry offices.
I sought out what Mark Herber had to say in his book, Ancestral Trails, and found the line: â€œFrom 1837 marriages could also take place before civil registrars, or in chapels licensed under the Civil Registrations Acts. The law permitted the superintendent registrar to issue a certificate (similar to an Anglican licence) authorising marriages (without banns) in licensed places of worshipâ€.
So here it was again in the 1866 marriage of another branch of my family and this time in Plymouth.
I have now found out that a Superintendent Registrar of a civil Register Office may issue a Certificate to permit a marriage to take place in an Anglican church on the following conditions.
One of the parties must have the required seven days residence within the registration district and within the parish where the marriage is to take place before applying for the Certificate.
Or the church where they wish to marry must be the usual place of worship of one or both of the parties.
The Registrar enters the details of the parties in a book which is open to public inspection and also displays a notice at the Register Office for 15 days. If no impediments are shown within the period of 15 days, a Superintendent Registrarâ€™s Certificate can be issued and so it is similar to reading banns.
A clergyman, however, is under no obligation to marry people who have chosen this preliminary, and in practice clergy will recommend banns or a Common Licence.
I have found on Barbara Dixon’s site, a tutorial regarding marriages and she indicates that a marriage “by superintendent registrars certificate” is comparatively rare. http://home.clara.net/dixons/Certificates/marriages.htm
It’s used for a Church of England marriage but instead of the banns being read in the church, notice of marriage would have been given to the superintendent registrar.
A reason for so doing could be necessitated where services were held so infrequently such as in the case of a small chapel, that it was not possible to call the banns on three successive Sundays and get married all within the three months time limit.
In later periods it was sometimes used as an expedient if for some reason the vicar did not want to make the forthcoming marriage in the church public knowledge. Banns would have required the entry in the banns book, which was open for anyone to look at.
The types of problem that could have caused this course to be taken could have been where a bride and groom were of different faiths and the vicar either didn’t want the congregation in general to know, or even the bride/grooms family to be aware especially where he feared they might try to disrupt the ceremony!
Today it is sometimes used when one of the couple is divorced and the vicar does not want it generally known that he is marrying a divorcee in his church.
So, comparatively rare or not I find I have two sets of ancestors who took advantage of the Superintendent Registrar’s Certificate.
Its the start of December, Christmas cards to write, presents to buy, parties to go to and work seems to step up a gear as the aim of selling other people stuff as Christmas gifts that they can give becomes important and what happens?
The common cold comes a knocking. And I don’t just mean a sniffle and a weak cough but a real kick in the back ache, fuzzy head and coughing and sneezing until it physically hurts.
The solution is, of course, to retire to the warm of your bed and feel sorry for yourself for a while. When this wears off, but you are still not well enough to venture out and too tired to do any meaningful work, then a good book can pass the time.
Over the last week I have been reading just such an offering from the pen ofÂ Steve Robinson. Its a Genealogical Crime Mystery and I have to say I am finding it riveting.
“Family history was never supposed to be like this… When American genealogist, Jefferson Tayte, accepted his latest assignment, he had no idea it might kill him. But while murder was never part of the curriculum, he is kidding himself if he thinks he can walk away from this one.
Driven by the all-consuming irony of being a genealogist who doesn’t know who his own parents are, Tayte soon finds that the assignment shares a stark similarity to his own struggle. Someone has gone to great lengths to erase an entire family bloodline from recorded history and he’s not going home until he’s found out why. After all, if he’s not good enough to find this family, how can he ever expect to be good enough to someday find his own?
Set in Cornwall, England, past and present, Tayte’s research centres around the tragic life of a young Cornish girl, a writing box, and the discovery of a dark family secret that he believes will lead him to the family he is looking for. Trouble is, someone else is looking for the same answers and they will stop at nothing to find them.”
I highly recommend this book, even if you are feeling hail and hearty. It is pacey and filled with references that family historians will recognise.
I’m reading mine on my Kindle Fire HD, but physical editions are available as well.
Disclosure: The above links are affiliate links. I may be compensated by Amazon should you decide to purchase these items from them.
So this week, in the British Isles, saw Waterstones Booksellers launch the Kindle readers in their shops across the country. In my branch in St Helier, Jersey there is a great new display point and I was drawn immediately towards the Kindle Fire HD. I love the way it looks and the way it works! So much so that I got my debit card out and bought one there and then.
With these devices making more of an inroad into the way that people shop for books and read them I thought that it was timely for me to take a look at what family history titles are available from the Amazon Kindle store.
First offÂ I found that Peter Christian’s The Genealogist’s Internet is available. I’d seen it reviewed in Your Family Tree magazine in only the last month with a recommend that every family historian should have a copy either in Kindle form or in physical book.
It is a practical guide which thatÂ is great for both beginners and more experienced researchers to use as it explores the most useful online sources and aids its readers to navigate each one. The Genealogist’s Internet features fully updated URLs and all of the recent developments in online genealogy.
This is the fully updated fifth edition and it carries the endorsed by the National Archives. Covering
Â·Online census records and wills, including the 1911 Census
Â·Civil registration indexes
Â·Information on occupations and professions
Â·New genealogy websites and search engines
Â·Passenger lists and migration records
Â·Information on digitised historical maps and photographs
Peter Christian’s book also includes the impact of blogging, podcasting and social networking on family history research, that allows the family historian to seek out others with similar research interests and so to share their results. Whether you want to put your family tree online, find distant relatives or access the numerous online genealogical forums, discussion groups and mailing lists, this book is a must-have.
For a selection of other Kindle books, including my own, head over to amazon.co.uk and take a look at these: Must Have Family History Books for your Kindle.
Like me you may have gone back up the branches of your English Family Tree to find that some of your ancestors became nonconformists, that is they didn’t worship in the Established Church of England or have their children baptised within it and when it came to being buried they chose to have a ceremony conducted in a different Christian tradition.
This week I have been using the resources of TheGenealogist.co.uk’s BMD Registers to look at images taken from RG4 at the National Archives. These are registers (authenticated by the Non-Parochial Registers Commissioners) of births, baptisms, deaths, burials and marriages. They cover the period from 1567 to 1858. To find out more about them have a look on TNA’s website, but suffice to say that I have been able to use them effectively to fill in gaps when my forebears didn’t appear in the C of E parish registers.
One way of being alerted to possible non-conformity in a line is where you can only find your ancestor’s marriage in the Parish church. From 1754, and the introduction of Lord Hadwicke’s Marriage Act, most of the people of England & Wales were required to marry in the Church of England. For this reason you may discover that your ancestor’s wedding is in the parish church’s registers, but theirs and their children’s baptisms and burials are not. If this is the case then you should make a search of the non-conformist’s records for the area.
A difficulty can often arise when the chapel in question did not have its own register. This could occur when the chapel was served by an itinerant minister, responsible for a circuit of chapels in the area. In this case you would need to try and find out the name of the minister and the other chapels in his care.
Most of the surviving Congregationalist registers up to 1837, and some for the Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians and Unitarians were surrendered to the government in 1840 or 1857. These are now held at The National Archives in mircofilm series RG 4, 5, & 8, and it was the first of those that I had been looking at on TheGenealogist.co.uk site.
I have written a short book, How to Search for Your English & Welsh Family History, that is available as a Kindle download from Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com, in which I delve further into the subject of nonconformist, in chapter 10.
If you don’t have a Kindle then you can get a free application to read it on your PC, Mac, iPhone, iPad, or Android device. Simply click on the order button in the image below to buy yourself a copy now.
I was reading a newsletter, from someone I respect, in a completely different field of interest from family history this weekend. In it he was talking about obstacles in the paths of people that are trying to achieve something, whether it was in sports, business or any other pursuit.
Nick James runs a membership site that caters for people that want to run an internet marketing business and in this week’s tip he recalled advice that a life coach had given him to physically write down your stumbling block in a paragraph or two and then to draw a little picture next to it. The picture could be a fence, a brick wall or whatever you chose to depict the problem that you face.
The idea behind this is that by so doing the brick wall no longer exists as a theoretical problem. It now takes on a concrete form that you can now deal with. I have a special note book into which I enter my problem ancestors and this acts in very much the same way for me.
In my family tree I have various lines that seem blocked and so I decided to tackle one of them this week end by seeking the help of an expert and talking through the problem with them. Now I did this by making use of the excellent facility of a telephone consultation provided by the Society of Genealogistsâ€™ Family History Advice Line on 020 7490 8911. It is available on Saturdays: 11am-1pm and 2pm-4pm and also on Thursdays: 6pm-7.45pm. I came away with ideas for further investigation that just might help me unlock the problem that I have of an ancestor whose occupation in the marriage register was a mariner. He turned up in a maritime city and married a local girl (of this parish) but did not provide posterity with any clue as to his parish or where he had sailed in from!
At the end of this month Who Do You Think You Are? Live returns to Olympia from the 24th to 26th February and one of the popular benefits of attending this event is the the Society of Genealogists Family History Show will be part of the weekend. Apart from the talks given there is a fantastic chance to book some time with an expert who can help you look at ways to tackle your obstinate brick wall. A chance to speak one-to-one with a local, regional or specialist expert may be what is needed to allow you to get through your brick wall.
For more useful tips to research your Family Tree then download my Kindle book by using the button in the box below.
Disclosure: The links in this post are Compensated Affiliate links. If you decide to buy the product I may receive a commission.
Just this week I was helping a contact find the death record for one of their forebears and the official death records had listed the deceased using an alternative spelling of the person’s middle name and so throwing some doubt on whether we had got our man or not. In the event the decease’s home address matched the information known about the family home and so it could be confirmed that this was the correct death certificate for my correspondent’s ancestor.
In my own tree I have come up against stumbling blocks provided, on the one hand, by poor transcription and, on the other, by variable spelling in newspaper reports that I had been investigating. One of my ancestors had a reasonably common first and second name, for his time, but he had been given the middle name of Crosland that enabled me to distinguish him from his same named contemporaries. Sometimes, however, he would appear as Crossland with two ‘s’s and other times with just the one. Similarly, one of his sons had been baptised with a middle name of Massy but this could be found in records written as Massey or Massy so adding to the chance of missing him.
Other problems, found using the search facilities of the main look up sites, were with transcriptions. It needs to be remembered that, when searching for an entry in a census, we are actually making use of the transcription provided by the website and not of the actual data written in the census. This would be impossible to use as it was completed in handwriting and so not open to search engines to interpret.
Using the census collections I have had difficulty finding my grandfather, a Hubert Thorne, as he had been transcribed as Herbert. Going back one generation and his father was Sydney, not Sidney and this doesn’t even consider the problems created by the enumerator shortening names such as Thomas to Thos, Elizabeth to Eliza and William to Wm.
Other difficulties arise, in my own family tree, when persons are baptised with a first and middle name and then adopt the middle name as a first throughout their life. To compound it all, there middle name is even used on their death certificate as if it was their first. And this doesn’t even touch on the fact that many of us have nick names that we prefer to be called by!
The point that I am making here, is to always beware of searching with strict parameters for a person’s name when doing your family tree.
For more useful tips to research your Family Tree then download my Kindle book by using the button in the box below.