I watched the Sir Derek Jacobi episode of Who Do You think You Are? with great interest this week. The television researchers showed us that although the famous actor was born into a South London family of humble stock, he was descended from a Huguenot ancestor of status. Joseph De La Plaigne had been imprisoned in France for his protestant beliefs, before making his escape to England in his sixties.
It gave me great delight to find the TV programme showed Sir Derek a copy of his illustrious forebear’s will, as I too had discovered this very same document when looking around the Prerogative Court of Canterbury wills on TheGenealogist’s website.
Many people from all stations of society, including some whom we would not have expected to have, made wills and so it is certainly worth taking a look to see if your ancestors left one.
Before 1858, England and Wales were divided into two provinces. The largest and most influential was Canterbury, which covered the South of England up to the Midlands and also Wales. The other was York, which covered Durham, Yorkshire, Northumberland, Westmorland, Cumberland, Lancashire, Cheshire, Nottinghamshire, and the Isle of Man. The two provinces of Canterbury and York each had their own Archbishop, and were divided into several dioceses. Each diocese had a minimum of two bishops, and these dioceses were also divided again into archdeaconries.
All wills, up until 12 January 1858, had to be proven in a church court to ensure that the will was legal. Wills were proven in over 250 church courts across the country, and the records of these are now stored mostly in local record offices.
For more on wills there is a module that reveals more about the subject inside the Family History Researcher Academy course on English/Welsh Family History that is available from the link below. The course takes the student from beginning researching their English/Welsh ancestor to deal with many intermediate level lessons such as wills and much more.
Soldiers Mentioned in Despatches are now available online
For the first time online, leading British genealogy research website TheGenealogist has released over 81,000 records of records of Mentioned in Despatches from the First World War, linked to citations from the London Gazette.
Find thousands of soldiers and army nurses who had come to the notice of superior officers for an act of gallantry, or meritorious action, in the face of the enemy in these records. The records created, when the recipient’s name appeared in an official report sent to the high command, can now be searched online only at TheGenealogist.
Some soldiers were mentioned in despatches (MiD), but do not receive a medal for their action, they are nevertheless listed in the records as they were entitled to receive a certificate and wear the Oak Leaf decoration on their dress uniform.
Only one such decoration is ever worn, even when a soldier is mentioned in despatches more than once, as was the case in the example of one Captain B.L. Montgomery.
Bernard Law Montgomery served in WWI in the Royal Warwickshire Regiment and was mentioned in despatches on several occasion so that we can find him no less than four times in the MiD records on TheGenealogist, the first of which is in 1915.
With one mouse click on the link to a transcript we can see the date the citation appeared in The London Gazette and note the date and page number for our research.
Another click of a link takes us straight to the website of the London Gazette so that we can then read the various pages that cover our soldier. By using the information from the transcript we can narrow our research right down to the correct page.
Following a third link on TheGenealogist results page gives us an image of the handwritten card record, showing even the military clerks corrections and crossing outs!
Awarded many medals in his time, including the DSO to which his oak leaf is pinned, this officer served between 1915 and 1918 ending the First World War as a Lieutenant Colonel. He was, as history tells us, to go on to become Field Marshall Montgomery and the 1st Viscount Montgomery of Alamein, one of this country’s important Second World War generals.
As a junior officer serving at Méteren near to the Border of France with Belgium he had been shot by a sniper through the right lung in October 1914. With the rich number of military records on TheGenealogist site we can also find him in the casualty lists. One click will then take us to an image of a page from the Times newspaper of October 20th 1914 in which he is listed.
Montgomery was hit once more through the knee and was awarded the DSO for his gallant leadership when he turned the enemy out of their trenches with the bayonet.
Once Captain Montgomery had recovered he went back to the Western Front in 1916 as a general staff officer, taking part in the Battle of Arras in spring 1917 and also the Battle of Passchendaele in the autumn of that year and ending his war as chief of staff of the 47th (2nd London) Division.
In World War II he assumed command of the Eight Army from 1942 in the Western Desert and went up against Romeril’s forces in Africa. This time was to include the Battle of El Alamein which was a turning point of the Western Desert Campaign. “Monty” went on to command the Eight Army in its part in the Allied invasion of Sicily and subsequently Italy.
As the war wound on to its close, during Operation Overlord he was in charge of all Allied ground forces and on the 4th May 1945 he took the German surrender at Lüneburg Heath in north Germany. After the war was over Field Marshal Montgomery became Commander-in-Chief of the British Army of the Rhine and then Chief of the Imperial General Staff. From 1948 until 1951 he was chairman of the permanent defence organisation of the Western European Union and in 1951 deputy commander of the Supreme Headquarters of NATO.
Known for his lack of tact, he had upset the American generals Paton and Bradley during WWII and after the hostilities he criticised many of his war-time colleagues, including General Eisenhower who was by now the President of the United States. Monty was, it is safe to say, a complex but brave man who served in the British Army for 50 years. He died on 24 March 1976.
Mark Bayley, head of Content at TheGenealogist said “For those people searching for ancestors who had served in World War I, Mentioned in Despatches provide a unique addition to the already strong collection of military records that are offered at TheGenealogist”
Disclosure: Compensated affiliate links used above.
In the last of the present series and in a show that was the 100th from the BBC of the gripping genealogical programme, we were treated to 60’s icon, model and fashion designer Twiggy.
And what a great show it was.
Twiggy’s Who Do You Think You Are? research revealed that she has a family history story filled with colourful characters, leading lives as eventful as her own has been.
The story of her great-great-grandmother who turned to crime “uttering forged coins” (passing them in payment) and spending time in a Victorian prison. The same woman and her daughter who were prosecuted for stealing a significant amount of money from the girls employer. The mother, having taken all the responsibility and being convicted, doing hard labour.
Others who ended up in the workhouse and the tale of the parish, when faced with having to support the inmates of this harsh institution, prosecuted the husband for abandonment of his wife and children and had him committed to jail with hard labour.
The fact that the convicted man’s occupation was that of a Slater, a hard job dependent on seasonal employment and from his death records we discover that he had a strangulated hernia. All of which point to another era when the welfare state did not exist to provide the safety net that we all so much take for granted today.
So why did the Workhouse exist? Why was there such fear on the part of the administrators of the Parish Poor Relief that they made conditions harsher than those that a labourer on the outside had to endure?
For centuries in England, those who fell on hard times would become the responsibility of their parish. The old poor law system had coped well enough until around 1800 new demands on the system caused the government to think again.
Unemployment had risen to new heights, a consequence of the growing industrialisation of the country that now needed less men to make the goods that previously had been created in the old cottage industries.
Another pressure on the poor law came from the disaster of a succession of bad harvests that meant those who subsisted in rural areas found it difficult to feed themselves.
Then, on top of this, the ending of the Napoleonic Wars caused a great many soldiers to return from France with no work to go to.
In today’s United Kingdom, we often refer to a North South divide with the balance being towards the richer South. In the 1800s the industrial north, with its large cotton mills and other factories, fared better than the South where fewer industries existed to employ those people who had previously worked on the land and were no longer required.
As the situation got worse for the government, by 1832 they believed that they had to overhaul the poor law system and the way in which the poor relief was distributed. A Royal Commission was asked to look into it and as a result parliament passed the Poor Law Amendment Act of 1834.
A belief was widely held in the country that the poor were often undeserving of the money. That they were idle if they had no work. Under the new Act Parishes were compelled to ban together into Poor Law Unions that often covered a 20 mile radius and each Union a Board of Guardians were chosen to administer the new system.
The biggest result of this change that could have affected your ancestors was the provision of a workhouse in each Union.
Five hundred plus of these Union Workhouses were constructed during the next 50 years with two-thirds of them having been built by 1840.
Although workhouses were not a new phenomenon, under the old system most of the unemployed would have received poor relief while continuing to live in their own homes (so called “out relief”).
Any parishioners, now needing help after the passing of the new law, were compelled to live inside the workhouse, where conditions were made as harsh as possible so as to discourage all but those who were desperate from applying.
Families were split up. Men and women segregated with children over seven separated from their mothers and forced to live in the children’s section.
On admission the poor would have to undress, have their clothes taken away from them until they were discharged. They would have had a thorough wash and then dress in the workhouse uniform of rough shapeless material. This stripping away of identity was all part of the discouragement from claiming indoor relief.
I have more on the Poor Laws, the Workhouse and Crime and punishment as just some of the many topics covered in my comprehensive Family History Researcher Academy course for anyone researching their English/Welsh family history. At the moment there is a Special Offer trial from the link on this page of £1 for the first two weeks!
Read what some of my past members have said:
“I am finding the course very useful, even though I have been doing family history for many years. Kind regards. ” H.Stephens
“You communicate in an understandable way! Thank you for the modules that I have had so far” P.Martin.
Press Release from Findmypast that those of us with RFC/RAF servicemen in the family may be interested in.
Findmypast.co.uk, in partnership with The National Archives has released close to 450,000 service records of men of the Royal Flying Corps and Royal Air Force including 342,000 Airmen’s records never seen online before. Tales of derring-do brought to life so vividly by W.E. Johns in his Biggles series are well-known, but today’s release tells, for the first time, the stories of the unsung heroes from across the world and from the lower ranks that made up the RAF on its inception.
The majority of records in this collection date from 1912 with the formation of the Royal Flying Corps (RFC) and include men who continued to serve in the RAF up until 1939. The earliest records date from 1899 with the Royal Engineers Balloon Service in the Boer War. With these fascinating records now available online, Findmypast offers the most comprehensive collection of British military service records in the early twentieth century.
Drawn from across the world…
The records reveal for the first time how World War One brought together men from across the world to serve alongside each other. Over 58 nationalities served in the RAF during World War One, with men signing up from as far afield as India, Brazil, Japan, Russia, Poland, Mexico, Romania and Germany. Included in the records is the first Indian to fly into combat, Hardutt Singh Malik, who became the only Indian aviator to survive the war, despite coming under significant attack and ending up with bullet wounds to his legs that required several months’ treatment in hospital. After the war, Malik joined the Indian Civil Service, serving as the Indian ambassador to France, and following his retirement became India’s finest golf player, even with two German bullets still embedded in his leg.
… and from across society
Despite the RAF’s reputation as the perfect playground for the upper classes, today’s records reveal how those from the working-class flew wing tip to wing tip with the officers, and became highly celebrated for their superior flying ability. One well-regarded flying ace, Arthur Ernest Newland, had humble origins as one of at least nine children from Enfield, north London, but the records show how he went on to twice receive the Distinguished Flying Medal for his prowess in the air, ending the war having destroyed 19 enemy aircraft, 17 of those single-handedly. One of ten children from a poor family in Limerick, John Cowell also became a celebrated airman during the war. Beginning on 5 May 1917, and extending through 28 July, Cowell scored fifteen victories as a gunner, and was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal on 11 June 1918, as well as the Military Medal with Bar. Returning as a pilot in 20 Squadron he scored his final victory a year and a day after his fifteenth but sadly was shot down and killed the next day by balloon buster Friedrich Ritter von Röth of Jasta 16.
The air’s a stage
With the records containing information about an individual’s peacetime occupation, as well as their military prowess, it’s perhaps no surprise that the RAF appealed to the more dramatic members of society with records showing 104 actors, nine comedians and even one music hall artiste made up the RAF ranks.
“It’s a real treat to have such an extensive set of records about the everyday airmen of World War One” said Paul Nixon, military expert at Findmypast.co.uk. “These people, drawn from all walks of life, and from all over the world, played an incredibly important part in shaping our history, particularly in the development of aerial warfare. To have many of these hitherto unseen records easily accessible online for the first time mean that now many people can discover the Biggles in their own family.”
William Spencer, author and principal military records specialist at The National Archives continued: “These records reveal the many nationalities of airmen that joined forces to fight in the First World War. Now these records are online, people can discover the history of their ancestors, with everything from their physical appearance right through to their conduct and the brave acts they carried out which helped to win the war.”
The records, comprising National Archives series AIR 76 (Officers’ service records) and AIR 79 (Airmen’s records) contain information about an individual’s peacetime and military career, as well as his physical description, religious denomination and family status. Next of kin are often mentioned and this too has been fully indexed and is easily searchable. These records form part of Findmypast’s 100in100 promise to deliver 100 record sets in 100 days. To learn more about the records, visit www.Findmypast.co.uk.
Its always a pleasure, for those of us researching our family tree, when a new set of records are released and today I’ve heard from TheGenealogist about a couple of new data sets that they have added to their ever growing website.
The theme is how the professional occupations played their part in the Great War – Unique Lawyer and Electrical Engineer War Records now available to view on TheGenealogist.
I will let them explain the details…
As part of its continuing commitment to add specific and unique research material to its collections, TheGenealogist has now added two unique record sets relating to professional organisations and their members during World War One. These two long established professions significantly played their part in the Great War. As their members contained some of the most skilled and talented professionals in their field, many became officers and casualty rates were high.
The Honourable Society of the Inner Temple is one of the four London based Inns of Court for the law profession and has been a separate legal society since 1388. Offering accommodation to practitioners of the law and their students with facilities for education and dining, the organisation proudly produced commemorative records of their members between 1914 to 1918. The information includes their regiment, rank and if they were injured, killed or missing in action. The Inner Temple list includes the record of future prime minister, Clement Atlee who was called to the Bar at the Inner Temple in 1906. He served as a Lieutenant in the South Lancashire Regiment and was the penultimate man to be evacuated from Gallipoli. He was later seriously wounded in Mesopotamia before serving in France. His war service helped shape him into a distinguished prime minister who presided over a radical, reforming government.
The Institute of Electrical Engineers (The IEE) was founded in 1871 and became the professional organisation for all electrical engineers. Pioneering developments in electrical engineering, itsâ€™ members were at the forefront of technical advancements in the early 1900â€™s and included many talented engineers.
The IEE war records are a tribute to members who died in the War. A number of promising engineers lost their lives and the records give an in-depth biography into the background, education, engineering career and war service, including details on how they sadly died. Many of the records come with a picture of the member commemorated as in the case of this â€˜studentâ€™ member featured below.
Second Corporal Charles Burrage, who had been awarded the 1st Class Diploma for best 3rd year student in Electrical Engineering at Battersea Polytechnic, he gave up his job to join the Royal Engineers and was posted to France in 1915. During the Battle of Loos he won the Military Medal for bravery in maintaining telegraphic communication between the front and headquarters. He was killed shortly after in an attack on German positions.
Many educated professionals were chosen for their intelligence and leadership skills to become junior officers. Casualty rates were high as these young officers were often at the forefront of the attack.
Available to view in the â€˜Roll of Honourâ€™ section of the Military Records on TheGenealogist, the records are taken from the â€˜The Roll of Honour of The Institution of Electrical Engineersâ€™ publication and a â€˜Roll of Enlistmentâ€™ publication produced by The Honourable Society of The Inner Temple.
Mark Bayley, Head of Online Content at TheGenealogist comments: â€œUsing our ancestorâ€™s occupations can lead us to find more information about events that happened in their lives. Here weâ€™ve used their membership of professional organisations to find out more about their war service and heroism in the First World War along with autobiographical information. Itâ€™s a great source that can really boost our knowledge of an ancestor.â€
Disclaimer: Links above are compensated affiliate links.
I was passing by a village war memorial this week, still resplendent with its poppy wreaths from theÂ remembrance day service. I took to wondering about who these named individuals, carved in stone, were and what their lives had been before they went off to fight and die for their country.
So it is sort of apt that I just got this in from TheGenealogist. It deals with the National Union of Teacher’ War Records, giving some insight into one set of professionals who answered the call to go to war.
The Diamond subscription on TheGenealogist now has over 18,000 new records to access from the â€˜National Union of Teachersâ€™ War Records from 1914 to 1919. These records include a list of teachers who joined the forces, those who received honours, and also those who were sadly killed, plus other information relating to the National Union of Teachers during the war.
Covering all N.U.T. members who served in the war and also discussing issues of the time, such as pensions, salary levels of teachers who joined the army and fund raising for relief in Europe.
The records are a comprehensive list of members of the National Union of Teachers who served in the Great War. The teaching profession and its members responded to the great nationwide pressure to â€˜do their bitâ€™, with most male teachers of service age answering the call to arms.
The â€˜National Union of Teachersâ€™ had a number of courageous medal recipients amongst its members. Listed here is 2nd Lieutenant Jack Harrison of the East Yorkshire Regiment. He was killed in May 1917 in Oppy Wood, France aged 27. After having earlier won the Military Cross for bravery, he was posthumously awarded a Victoria Cross for single-handedly attacking a German machine gun post to protect his platoon. His body was never found.
He taught at Lime Street Council School in Hull and also played rugby league for Hull FC as a prolific try scorer. He is listed among the â€˜Gallant War Deadâ€™ in the records along with the name of his school.
The records provide an interesting insight into how a specific profession and its union coped with the events of The Great War. Taken from the National Union of Teachers War Records 1914 to 1919 publication, the records can be found in the War Service Lists in the Military Records section on TheGenealogist.
Mark Bayley, Head of Online Content at TheGenealogist comments: â€œThe war affected so many lives, but it can often be hard to trace records for those who survived. This is why TheGenealogist is committed to providing more unique records of those who survived, whether they are casualty lists, prisoners of war, or in this case full service lists for specific professions. We are aiming to continually add more of these specialist records to provide family historians with more unique data at their fingertips.â€
Wow, I’ve had a busy weekend, some of it spent looking around an old graveyard.
I couldn’t help but notice the number of military men that had been remembered in the words written on their headstones. Some listed the battles they fought in and some just their regiment, or ship in the case of those who served in the Royal Navy.
I did get to spend an hour, however, on the computer looking up the names of branches in my family in a new set of records just released by TheGenealogist.
In my Devon lines my family tree often gets stuck, when I try to push it back into the 18th century. But this week, using the new Militia Musters, just released online by TheGenealogist, I have found some promising leads. And shock horror…some of my Devon kin, especially the ones from Plymouth, may actually be from Cornwell as I note the names appearing in Musters in that county, while others are more definitely Devonian.
For the first time you can search early militia musters for all of England and Wales. The collection includes over 58,000 rare records of these part-time soldiers for 1781 and 1782. This is the largest number of surviving records available for this era.
This joins the largest collection of Army Lists available online establishing TheGenealogist as a major military research site.
The militia men were offered a bounty to transfer to the regular army and some did decide on a regular military career. If youâ€™re struggling to find out how your ancestor started their military career, the answer could be in the militia records!
In the troubled times of the 1700s, Britain faced a threat from the European powers of France, Spain and Holland at various times. All â€˜able-bodiedâ€™ men were considered for the militia and put on a â€˜militia ballot listâ€™. The chosen men then were required to meet or â€˜musterâ€™ at points for training. Four musters were taken over the time covered by the new records on TheGenealogist.
The records cover people from all walks of life who made up the officers and men, from M.P.â€™s to landowners, from carpenters to labourers, if they were physically up to it, they could be selected for the militia!
Regiments covered all of England and Wales and are represented in the new records. The records are from The National Archives series WO13 and feature the â€˜muster and pay listsâ€™ of all members of the militias. Men received â€˜Marching Moneyâ€™ when the militia was mobilised and were paid expenses for local meetings.
The new militia lists can further help track the movements and lives of our ancestors before census and civil registration times.
In an easy to search format, itâ€™s possible to search for an ancestor to see if they served in any of the militia regiments of England and Wales. Search by name and any relevant keyword, or use the advanced search to narrow it down to â€˜Corpsâ€™ , â€˜Companyâ€™ or the actual â€˜Rankâ€™ of the soldier.
Mark Bayley at TheGenealogist comments: â€œThese unique records really enhance our online military collection. Not all our ancestors served in the regular army and the part-time local militias were an essential part of the national defence, as was seen in the â€˜Battle of Jerseyâ€™ at the time, when the local militia fought admirably against the French and Dutchâ€.
Disclosure: The Links in the above are Compensated Affiliate links. If you click on them then I may be rewarded by The Genealogist.co.uk should you sign up for their subscriptions.
I have just been to Southwell Workhouse in Nottinghamshire to look over an actual workhouse that is now run by the National Trust as a museum.
By doing this and seeing the layout of the accommodation, with its day rooms and exercise yards, my understanding of how these institutions worked has become clear.
In past times, before Henry VIII dissolved the monasteries, the care of the poor members of the community fell to the monks in the various religious houses throughout England and Wales. With the reorganisation that the dissolution brought, those poor ancestors of ours who had the misfortune to fall on hard times, would then have become the responsibility of their parish.
Under this parish system, the old poor law had coped well enough until around the year 1800 when, under increasing demands being made on the system the authorities were forced to review the process for supporting the poor.
The situation was that unemployment had risen to new heights, as a result of the burgeoning industrialisation of the country. Britain now required less men to make the goods that had previously been manufactured by workers in the cottage industries.
On top of this the disaster of a succession of bad harvests that meant those who subsisted in rural areas found it difficult to feed themselves, added to the demand placed on the poor law system as it had been constituted.
As if this was not enough for the Government, the ending of the Napoleonic Wars had meant that a great number of soldiers now had come back from France and they had no work waiting for them at home.
The Deserving Poor.
In my family tree I was, at first, surprised that none of my ancestors seemed to have ended up in the workhouse. As I found more and more forebears I had become complacent that all my lot seemed to make it in the world without having to â€œGo On the Parishâ€ and then I found one.
It was a sad shock for me as the lady in question had been the wife of a Master Mariner, the mother of several children who had all married and were making their way well in the world. But there she was in one of the census spending the end of her life in the workhouse!
Her husband was nowhere to be found in the census and so I speculated that he must have died abroad, not being able to find his death record. She, poor woman, had nowhere to go but into the workhouse.
But the workhouse was also a place where medical care could be given to those with little means in a time before the availability of free hospitals or medical insurance. So perhaps this explains why she was there? The deserving poor were segregated from the idle poor having different quarters and exercise yards.
The Idle Poor.
The number of workhouses had grown after the enactment of the Workhouse Test Act of 1723. The thinking behind this was that this new Act would help to prevent irresponsible claims being made on a parish’s poor rate. Something that concerned those who had to find the money to run the system as the funding of it was paid for by the wealthier members of the parish.
By the 1830s, in England and Wales, most parishes had at least one workhouse to send its poor to.
So what would any of our ancestors, unlucky enough to have found themselves in this position have faced? Those poor unfortunates who had no option but to seek â€œindoor reliefâ€ would have to endure unpalatable conditions inside the institution. It was designed to be thus so as to put people off from entering the workhouse unless they had run out of alternatives for survival outside.
Families were split up. Men and women segregated with children over seven separated from their mothers and forced to live in the children’s section.
On admission they would have to undress, surrender their own clothes until they were discharged, have a thorough wash and then dress in the workhouse uniform which was usually made of rough and shapeless material. This was all aimed at discouraging people from entering the system by stripping away part of their identity.
The belief, at the time, was that the undeserving poor were idle and so they were made to do tedious jobs. Inmates who were not aged or infirm would have to work for their keep. The jobs given to them were deliberately chosen to be monotonous and boring. At Southwell they would grind corn, pick oakum or, for the females, do laundry work.
The picture to the left is of an old rope from the docks that the inmates would pick apart so that the fibres could be sold back to the docks to be used in the caulking boats and ships.
So what about the Poor Law Amendment Act of 1834 and how this shook up the system?
I’ve received an up date from TheGenealogist.co.uk to say that we can now search a newspaper containing Births Marriages and Deaths from the time of the Occupation of the Channel Islands on their site.
A selection of issues that cover the period 1941-1945 are available from the time when some evacuated from their homes to England. To keep in touch the refugees produced this journal.
The background is this. In 1940 German forces were threatening the Channel Isles as they advanced across France and the British government consulted the Islands representatives. It was decided then that the islands were not defensible and so they would be demilitarised. A massive evacuation was carried out during late June 1940 and those residents of the islands that wanted to leave, boarded a flotilla of ships to the UK where they settled.
It is a matter of history that the Channel Isles were the only part of the British Isles to be occupied during WWII and by the 1st of July 1940 they had surrendered to the German Army.
During the war ex residents kept in touch with ‘The Channel Isles Monthly Review’. These journals listed Births, Marriages and Deaths plus allowed islanders to keep in contact with friends and family. TheGenealogist has now included pdfs that can be searched in their newspaper section of the site and they promise that it will grow as new issues become available.
Just read the following excerpt for a flavour:
Nov 1941 issue “A young Jerseyman has escaped from Jersey. Three days and three nights in an eight foot boat without food.” This was his third attempt and he had previously spent four days on a rock that featured in Victor Hugo’s “Les Miserables” . This attempt he managed to evade two German E-boats that nearly swamped his boat.
Conditions in the island weren’t good as the Jerseyman reported:-
“The food supply is not the best. Fuel is short. Income tax is 4/6 in the pound to pay the expenses of the army of occupation.”
He also said to the Times that food is rationed and very scarce with Jersey butter, cream and other products exported much against the will of the population.
“There is a total absence of fats on the island so there are no cakes or pastry etc. The curfew is at 11pm”
People used the review to publish excerpts from letters about relatives on the islands and give news of family members.
The selection of issues covers 1941-1945 and are available to Diamond subscribers.
As many of us find out, when we start to research our family history, our forebears can be a mixture of characters who can come from different walks of life and backgrounds.
In my case I have agricultural labourers, small businessmen, carpenters and brass-founders. There are mariners, soldiers and an intriguing line that “lived on their own means” and are descended from Scottish nobility, albeit in some cases, from the “wrong side of the blanket”.
One of these ancestors, who has always interested me, is a 2 x great-grandfather who appears on the various census as not having an occupation other than owning houses and funds. I had traced Charles Crossland Hay back from Cheltenham in England, where he died in 1858, to his birth in Dunbar in Scotland in 1797 the son of a merchant, who was also called Charles Hay, and his wife Mary Ann Stag. Charles Hay senior then moves his home to Edinburgh and then I pick up the son, Charles Crossland Hay, living at Auchindinny House, near Lasswade, before he marries his bride from Fife in 1832.
Over their life together they have seven children. Two of which are born in Scotland with four born in England and the seventh, my great grandfather, born in France. This last child is registered as a British subject and is christened in Lasswade, back in Scotland, and so his details were to be found on the ScotlandsPeople website.
With the recent launch online of The British Newspaper Archive at http://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk/
I have, at last, gained more information that has allowed me to find out more about the business of my 2x great-grandfather, through a report on the tragic death of one of his other sons: William.
William Wemyss Frewen Hay died at the age of 30 from a fall over the cliffs in Alderney on a visit to the garrison there. In the newspaper article it stated that he was the son of the late Charles Crossland Hay of the firm Hay, Merricks & Co of Roslin.
Now I could start using the search engines to find out about the company, but first of all I did a search of the newspapers for the business. I was rewarded by finding advertisements for their “Sporting Gunpowder” in papers from all over the country.
I went on to find samples of the gunpowder for sale at Christie’s and books mentioning the products digitised and on Google books.
Looking at a map I could also see that Roslin is but a stones throw away from Auchendinny and from the Lasswade parish church, so explaining the family’s link to the area.
On Google Books, I came across a Report from the Select Committee of the House of Commons in 1837-8 dealing with the effect of fictitious votes in Scotland after the Reform Act brought in by the Whigs. There is a list of voters and how they voted included in the document, something that would be unthinkable today. The four business partners of Hay, Merricks & Company of Roslin Powder Mills, which include Charles Crossland Hay, are all recorded as being voters for the Whig party in the years between 1832 to1850 at Roslin.
So now I have ascertained that my ancestor voted for the Whig party and was involved in the manufacture of gunpowder and all this has flowed from a newspaper report into the horrific, slow, painful death of his second son William in 1867 on Alderney, and who was actually born in 1836, two years before the report on fictitious votes was published.
What this shows me, is how events that occur at different points in a timeline and which get reported, can so easily unlock brick walls that occur at other times in the timeline.
Disclosure: Compensated Affiliate links used above.