Great-Uncle Clifford’s Unfortunate Death Covered in the Papers

British Neswpaper Collection

I have been aware for some time that my grandfather’s younger brother died when he was only a young man. He is buried in the family’s plot in Paignton cemetery and from the memorial words on his grave it would seem it was tragic.

I recall that a family story had it that a motorbike was involved, and naturally some of the family had assumed that he was riding said motorcycle at his death.

My father, however, knew differently and explained that his Uncle Clifford had been killed when a motorbike had hit him as he stood in the road.

This week I have been looking on the British Newspaper Collection again, from within the findmypast site and was able to find a report in the Exeter & Plymouth Gazette of 31st July 1923 that reported on the accident. It also provided me with a little bit more information that I was previously ignorant of; that his occupation was a dental mechanic.

Another paper (Western Morning News of the 3rd August) gave me the names of those mourners that attended the funeral in St Andrew’s Paignton including those who are listed as uncles, aunts and cousins so giving more useful information for the family historian.

I really do recommend you taking a look at newspapers either on the dedicated British Newspaper Archives site, whose search engine seems to me identify a broader set of results than the sister site.

Or within the findmypast website if you have a subscription.

I am putting together a family history course of my own and will be certainly covering the usefulness of researching your ancestors in the newspapers of the time.

 

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WDYTYA? LIVE – Memorial Awareness Board Stand

Apart from all the obvious family history stands at the show I came across this one that gets my vote for the most animated. They had a real live stone carver creating a memorial!

Now we all know what it is like to find our ancestor’s grave and not be able to read the inscription but what will the generations to come find from our memorials?

Makes me want to insure that when my time comes I’d like my headstone to be carved in hard wearing stone!

The MAB campaigns for memorials in stone. For further information check out the website: www.RememberForever.org.uk

 

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How to Search for Your English & Welsh Family History

Many of us have a desire to know more about the generations that preceded us and about our roots. We may have become fascinated about where our family originated from; what it was that they did for a living and in what conditions they lived. If your forebears came from England & Wales, then you will want to know what records you can access and where to look for them.

I am Nick Thorne, The Nosey Genealogist, and I have just published an amazon Kindle book called: How to Search for Your English & Welsh Family History. In it I lead the reader through some of the research work that you will probably need to undertake to pursue these goals. Assuming that you have a yearning to find out more about your British roots, this is a concise introduction to English & Welsh family history which can help you in your quest.

I include a look at online and offline records,starting with the census collections and the civil registration data. Different types of Parish Records are dealt with in one chapter including the Dade and Barrington registers. If your ancestor is missing from the church records, then I explain where to find the Bishop’s transcripts and what these copies are.

Baptismal, marriage and burial records are not the only records that were locked away in the Parish Chest and so I look at some of the other documents that may have survived.

Researching records of a marriage and what a Clandestine marriage was are included in this short book as is an explanation of why your ancestor may have had a double baptism. Nonconformist, those of a Christian denomination other than the Church of England, and parish graves are investigated, as is researching records of a marriage, illegitimacy and stumbling blocks in the parish records.

If you don’t have a Kindle then you can download Kindle for PC from amazon and read Kindle books directly on your PC!

If you want a concise book on English an Welsh Family history then click the button to Buy from Amazon in the box below.

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Brick Walls in Family History – Incorrect Information.

I have been doing some family history research this week to try and find a burial plot for someone that had been killed in action in World War II.

The information that I had passed on to me, identified a particular cemetery and came with a plot number. This seemed to circumnavigate a great deal of time for me searching out the details myself. On visiting that burial ground, however, the gave in the particular plot belonged to a completely different named family and was not that of the fallen soldier that I was looking for. The details had come to me via a member of the family and had been given to them by an archivist for one of the British Army’s Regiments. Somehow the cemetery that the soldier was buried in had become mixed up with another one in the same town and supplied in error.

On realising that the details that I had were wrong, I went back to basics and did a search of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website. Here I was able to find the correct burial ground to go and visit and locate the grave in question.

The actual grave itself also cleared up some other queries that I had, as it was shared with members of the man’s maternal family as well as his father. What it revealed was that the  maternal surname was spelt differently from that which we had previously been given to understand and that his grandmother’s first name was not Daisy but was actually Minnie.

The lesson that I took away, yet again, is that information passed down a family can become clouded. Perhaps Minnie was always known as Daisy and her nick name had been remembered, while her given name had been forgotten, or it was just a simple mistake in recalling the name.

Surnames can be spelt differently. An example is that mine is Thorne with an “e”. But go back four generations and my ancestor spelt it without an “e” for part of his life and with one for the latter part. His father spelt it without.

The best rule of Family History is to always check details of ancestors in primary sources and to beware of transcription errors, those mistakes made in family folklore and second-hand information in general.

 

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Starting Your Family Tree – Collecting Personal Data

The favored rule of genealogy is to begin with yourself.  Work from the known to the unknown, gathering evidence each step of the way.

Next, gather information from your immediate family . The elders do not live indefinitely regardless of health or age and it is important to record everything that they can remember.

Whenever possible, conduct a one-on-one interview.  Let people know that you are coming , as well as the type of information in which you are interested .  With permission, use recording equipment.  Take accurate and clear notes .  Prepare for your interview by making a checklist of questions to remind you to ask the three key  questions:  who, where, and when . These questions will increase your genealogy know how and family tree research .

However, be prepared to follow leads from the person you are interviewing .  There are sure to be challenges in the process ; beflexible with your interview style and be open to the discussion and the stories that follow . When it is inconvenient to interview a relative personally , write a letter that is personal and conversational in nature .  If the communication goes unanswered, a telephone call may be necessary .  Writing may be difficult for an elderly person who might be interested in sharing information.  If this is the reason , a phone call might be more productive.

It is important to recognize that not everyone will be as interested or excited about family history and genealogy .
Use photos as a aid .  Often pictures refresh the memory, and unlock bits and pieces of family information long forgotten.  

Assure your relatives that you will be careful of the material loaned to you .  Respect the information they give to you.  Often relatives are reluctant to lend a family heirloom , so be prepared to photograph items whenever they cannot be removed from the premises .

Offer to share your research .  Keep your word .  After entering compiling data on  a family history sheet and pedigree chart , send  a copy to the person who has kindly given you   the facts .

Be  certain to ask if there is bible in the family and find out where it is situated .  Family bibles may contain facts  about   marriages, births and deaths carefully recorded on pages within.

enquire if others in your family has researched genealogy . If so, determine how you can obtain a copy

Family heirlooms often contains useful information :

  • Names and places are printed on the backs of old pictures .
  • Written messages on the inside of a book commemorating a birthday or a vacation .
  • Family scrapbooks that contain historic newspaper obituaries and articles , concert programs , plays,  and graduations .
  • Engraved silver.

There are an endless variety of family artifacts :

  • Certificates and other family records – birth baptism, confirmation , marriage record ,  death and burial , wills, lawsuits . 
  • Adoption records
  • Diaries
  • Funeral cards
  • School Report  

Develop a method to organize your research . Organizing all of this material is difficult if you don’t have a method .  You will want to create a filing system using both electronic and traditional techniques.  Use binders or folders with the surname as the label, keeping items relating to that surname together. When you have time , peruse each folder or binder carefuly, extracting relevant information.

Make sure to compare your electronic files to your paper files .

Don’t forget to backup your material in another location .  Many priceless family memorabilia have been destroyed by natural disasters , as well as by the apathy of others who did not know they were handling did not know the value of the irreplacable family artifacts . 

 

 

 

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Military Records in Family Tree Research

With Remembrance Sunday just passed yesterday, I guess many of you may have turned your minds, like I did, to where can we find our ancestors who fought in the wars and conflicts that have taken place.

It seems, rather sadly, that it is easier to find records for British service personnel that died in action than the survivors. There is the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, local war memorials and rolls of honour, local newspaper archives amongst other places to find “The Glorious Dead”.

If, like me, you had a father who served in the Merchant Navy in the Second World War, then you can find the details of merchant seamen’s medal cards at the National Archives documents online.

http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/documentsonline/seamens-medals.asp

The official journals of the the British Government, the London, Edinburgh and Belfast Gazettes are great places to start looking for promotions, awards of gallantry medals and honours and the details of the commissioning and promotions of officers in the British Army, Royal Navy and Royal Air Force.

Service Records are more difficult to find. A large number of WWI records have been lost to bombing in the Second World War, but as officer’s records were not stored in the same place, you have a better chance of uncovering these. To find a soldier requires the researcher to know the regiment and service number of their ancestor. A tip I read in the Your Family Tree Magazine last month  (Issue 96 November 2010) was that as most service men were awarded at least one medal then the name indexes to the medal rolls are a good place to start researching.


Disclosure: Compensated Affiliate.

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Nonconformist buried in my family tree.

As you may know, if you have been following me for any length of time, that Devon is one of the areas of the U.K. that I research my ancestors in. Some of my Devonian forebears turned away from the established Church of England and became dissenters. There seems to be a rather limited number of nonconformist chapel burial records actually surviving within the county of Devon and so this can be a bit of a brick wall for us. Many family historians may well have found that in their own family trees, ancestors left the Church of England to practice their faith in other Christian churches.

By the law of the land, people of each and every denomination could be laid to rest inside their parish churchyard. Although this was the case, however, the relatives of people who were nonconformists were not allowed to have a Church of England burial service at the graveside. This would be fine if all the deceased’s family were no longer C of E, but I would guess it could be upsetting for family members who had not joined their relation in nonconformity and so would have wanted a service conducted by the local vicar!

I was intrigued to find out that people who held offices within the “establishment” were affected by another piece of legislation. I am talking here about Councillors as well as some other municipal officials. These worthy people were not allowed to put on their robes of office to attend the funeral of a non conformist councillor and this would have included the wearing of a mayoral chain etc. Should they rashly have broken this rule then they were liable to a fine of £100 and in addition they would likely end up being barred from civic office throughout the rest of their lives!

Many nonconformists, however, did not wish to be interred within land held by the Church of England. Quakers, most especially, established their own unique burial grounds. In these, the family historian will discover, plots defined by somewhat plain, uncomplicated stones that usually feature only the initials belonging to the departed.

A number of chapels established their own burial grounds, this included the Independents, Methodists as well as the Baptists. Furthermore, if you go researching your nonconformist ancestors in several country places in England, you will find that burial grounds were opened for all those involved with the various nonconformist denominations and would not specifically be confined to only one or other of the particular religious faith traditions. Around 1880 a welcome change, in the laws of England & Wales, granted the possibility for the family of a person, being laid to rest within a Church of England parish graveyard, to opt for a minister from their own religious beliefs to be able to preside over the burial service. This began the downfall in making use of separate nonconformist burial grounds as they were often less popular because of the fact that, in some cases, they were several miles from the particular village or district from where the deceased’s family resided. In 1853 and following on from the considerable overcrowding of church graveyards and burial grounds, due in some measure to the number of cholera fatalities and so forth, Parliament handed down a further law closing a large number of these areas to fresh internments. The result of the law saw many towns as well as bigger parishes setting up cemeteries, to look after the continued burial of the deceased.

To find earlier burial grounds nowadays isn’t always that simple a task. In an ideal world you would be able to find someone who possesses the required local knowledge of their location and is also willing to assist you in your research. I’ve had the happy experience of this while I was researching my family in Cheltenham, England. The local history society, as well as an amateur historian from one of the bigger churches, were luckily able to help lead me in the right direction to find my ancestor, for which I was very grateful. The basic scarcity of registers, nevertheless, will most likely make it tough if you want to research for names.

A further point, that you may need to take into consideration when researching your forebears, is that if the deceased was very poor and given a “paupers” grave, then the name of the unfortunate will not have been marked down in the burial records except for a numbered peg entered to locate the grave.

Lastly, I’d like to pass on this story that I have found reported in various places about a Church of England husband and a nonconformist wife wishing to be buried together. It is mentioned, for example, on the Bristol Times website thisisbristol.co.uk that in Arnos Vale Cemetery there is an elaborate monument raised for merchant Thomas Gadd Matthews (C of E) and his wife Mary (Congregationalist), which famously straddles both Anglican and nonconformist sections. The story seems to be that Matthews purchased a large grave plot strategically placed so that the two, while wishing to be true to their respective faiths, could be buried in a family plot that sits on the boundary line between the C of E and nonconformist parts of the cemetery. A rather lovely tale!

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