The Family History Researcher and Harold P Matthews

Last week I wrote about how a family story had sent me off looking for my great-uncle Harold who served in the RAF during the Second World War and rising from Warrant Officer to Wing Commander in the Technical Branch.

One of my kind readers suggested a lead after they had done a Google search for H.P.Matthews that threw up a person of this name working for the Australian Department of Supply in a document referring to the Blue Streak Missile project. I had also come across something similar in Google Books and so was likewise wondering if there was a connection to Australia.

I set to work doing a trawl of Google search results and found a copy of an article in a 1959 copy of Flight Magazine with a picture of the Australian Government London Representative of the Department of Supply Mr H P Matthews.

http://www.flightglobal.com/pdfarchive/view/1959/1959%20-%202503.html

Regretfully I came to the conclusion that it didn’t look to me to be the same man. You see I have a picture of my Great-Uncle in my baby photo album! He and my great-aunt Winnie came to visit me in the late 1950’s (I was born in the summer of 1958) and there is one of them with me as a baby.

A further search of Google books have thrown up some snippet views of books that have Wg. Cdr H P Matthews appointed as the managing director of Zwicky Ltd in 1958. This company was a filters, pumps, airport ground equipment, pressure control valves, and hydraulic equipment manufacturer of Slough and Harold Matthews was also the MD of SkyHi Ltd. a hydraulic jack manufacturers also of Slough and possibly related to the first company.

 

I did a search on the website www.forces-war-records.co.uk and here I could see that H.P.Matthews was awarded the MBE, OBE and BEM, 1939-1945 War Medal, 1939-1945 Star and was Mentioned in Despatches, but not a lot else.

I am still at the beginning of cracking this family story and it is a major regret that I didn’t know Uncle Harold better. It would seem he was some sort of an aviation engineer, but I still don’t know what he did in the war that got him such promotion and honours!

http://www.apimages.com/oneup.aspx?rids=b122ed18743d49238762fd28fd2f913b

 

Disclosure: The above advert is a compensated affiliate link which may mean I get rewarded should you join their website.

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Found My Ancestors in the Newspapers!

I’m travelling back home today from a trip to a part of the country that some of my ancestors once lived in. On my visit I have been to Reading and Gloucestershire and seen the towns that various of my forebears lived.

While in my hotel room, however, I decided to take another look at the online British Newspaper Archive. I was really pleased to see that The Cheltenham Looker On is now available on The British Newspaper Archive up to 1920! This, they say, is rather like an historical Hello Magazine.  Imagine my delight to find that my Cheltenham based ancestors appeared in the comings and goings of this paper with several mentions of where and when they were leaving on a trip or returning to their house!

Talking of coming and going, I have to rush now to catch a train!

If you are interested to see if you can trace your own ancestors in the pages of historical British Newspapers then click the box below. The British Newspaper Archive have just added several more titles and are doing so all the time. You never know what you may find!



Disclosure:Compensated Affiliate Links used above.

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Map tool at FamilySearch.org is great for family historians.

maps.familysearch.orgI’ve been using a great map tool at the LDS site, familysearch.org, this weekend and I have to say it has proved to be really useful so far. My attention was drawn to it by an article in this month’s Who Do You Think Tou Are? Magazine (Issue 59, April 2012) dealing with 50 Ways to get more from FamilySearch.org.

Tip number 7 is Explore Maps of English Jurisdictions. The idea is to see several types of jurisdictional boundaries, such as parish boundaries, poor law unions, counties, diocese and more on a map tool on your screen. By using different layers you are able to see the borders of each superimposed on to a Google map, or click to see Satellite or an 1851 Ordnance Survey Map instead.

I found using the “Radius Place Search” one of the most useful features in my quest this week. It is interesting to find out how far away from the parish, where my ancestors lived at one time, were the other Parishes in the area. I could specify 1/4 mile, 1/2 mile, 1, 5, 10 miles, or 20 miles radius to plot those within walking, or perhaps horse riding distance from the first.

I was using this tool to look at a line of forebears who suddenly turn up in one town and feature for a few generations, in the registers of the parish. My investigation is now to find out whether they moved in from the surrounding countryside and so I can specify a start parish and then, using the information box that appears on the map, then select the tab called “Options”.

Next I selected “Radius Place Search”. I was then able to select, from a drop-down menu, the various distances from between 1/4 mile to 20 miles and be provided with a list of parishes that fitted the criteria. I also made sure that I had selected the Parish and County options from the “Layers” tab on the left hand side. This, so that I could see the jurisdiction’s borders marked on the map.

By now selecting the tab “List” I could hover my cursor over the named parish and a pin would appear on the map at the place marking the parish. By changing the map from a modern Google map to the 1851 Ordnance Survey I was able to find a hamlet or area name that was of interest to my family and then go on to find the nearest parish to it that was within walking distance.

This is a really useful tool and the best thing is that it is FREE!

Go to http://maps.familysearch.org and try it yourself.

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Society of Genealogist Put More Online For Members.

Society of Genealogists

I’ve recently received my copy of the Society of Genealogists’ magazine Vol 30 No 5 and read in the Library Update section that in 2010 they added a total of 1,800 new items. Now for anyone that knows the building at 14 Charterhouse Buildings in the City of London, you probably wonder how they manage to keep on fitting it all in.

In the past quarter the SoG has  acquired, for those members with North American ancestors, the latest supplement to the Passenger & Immigration Lists Index. If you have forebears from Cheltenham, then you will probably be pleased to consult the Court Books of the Manor of Cheltenham, that covers from 1692-1803. While the parish of Burnley in Lancashire’s registers have been purchased with sponsorship from The Halsted Trust and a quantity of Somerset registers have also been added to the shelves.

When ever I am in London I really look forward to a visit to EC1 to do a bit of research at the SoG among the books, manuscripts, collections and microfiche readers. But belonging to the Society also allows members to have access to some of the data from within a special Members Area of the SoG website. Recently this section has been renamed SoG Data Online and newly uploaded are the Vicar-General and Faculty Office marriage licence indexes, the PCC will index for 1750 to 1800, the Shoreditch St Leonard burials and the St Andrew Holborn marriages.

More records are promised online, including those data collections that were previously hosted by the British Origins websites and have now become available on FindMyPast.com website in a new deal with this operator who, it would seem are sponsoring the SoG as it celebrates its Centenary year.

I can not recommend more highly this organisation and wish it a happy hundredth!



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Genealogist Anthony Adolph Talks About Family Tree Research and DNA

Genealogist Anthony Adolph
Genealogist Anthony Adolph

Now here is a very special interview for you from my trip to the Who Do You Think You Are? LIVE show at the end of February.

I was on my way to The Society of Genealogists stand, where I was volunteering on the second hand book stall as a way of giving something back to the SoG, when I spotted the well respected genealogist and author Anthony Adolph. He was taking questions from show-goers on the stand of the “Your Family Tree Magazine”, a publication for which he writes articles on surname research.

As a shareholder in an independent bookshop I am also aware of Anthony Adolph as an author of several books, including Full of Soup and Gold: The life of Henry Jermyn and many titles on family history.

He was gracious enough to give me a wonderful interview that began by reassuring me and my blog readers/ YouTube Channel viewers, that “we have all reached points in our family trees where we are stuck.”  He revealed that he has been tracing his own family tree for getting on for thirty years now.  “First of all as a complete and utter amateur, as a schoolboy, ” Mr Adolph said, “and then later on I became a professional.”

Giving some hope, to all those of us who find we are facing a brick wall, he charmingly admits that, just like everyone else, at the beginning of each of his family lines he is completely stuck.

The interview then goes on to touch on the four techniques for getting further back:

  1. Oral History
  2. Paper based
  3. Surnames
  4. DNA.

Anthony Adolph then reveals that he has become quite passionate about the latter and how DNA in genealogy enabled him to discover that the “cap” to his family tree was unusual. It seems that the Haplogroup, from which he descends from the genetic Adam and Eve, is G and so from Armenia, Georgia and Turkey. This is in contrast to the fact that most men in Europe are from group R.

Watch the full interview here.

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NoseyGenealogist.com/blog interviews Your Family Tree Magazine’s Editor

Here is the first of my From the show video reports..
http://www.noseygenealogist.com/blog/who-do-you-think-you-are-live-2011
In which I get to talk to Mr Tom Dennis, the editor of the popular family history publication: Your Family Tree Magazine. It was at the 2011 “Who Do You Think You Are? Live” show in London that I caught up with Tom on his magazine’s stand and got to hear the plans for some of the family history articles and features that we can look forward to in his magazine over the next few months. We also get an insight into what resources we should look out for on the cover CD and hear how the on-line forum for family historians is developing.

Your Family Tree Magazine Editor talks to The Nosey Genealogist
Your Family Tree Magazine Editor talks to The Nosey Genealogist
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Who Do You Think You Are? LIVE is coming soon.

Who Do You Think You Are? LIVE Olympia 2008

Its getting close to that time of the year again! I mean when the Who Do You Think You are? LIVE comes to London. If you have followed me for any time then you will know how much I enjoy this show for the chance to see lots of fellow minded family historians all gathered in one place.

This year the management has changed as BBC Magazines Bristol has bought a majority share in the UK’s largest family history event.

Who Do You Think You Are? LIVE was first brought to us back in 2007 by Brand Events, the consumer event specialists, and  the television production company, Wall To Wall ( a Shed Media company) who were responsible for the highly successful TV programme: Who Do You Think You Are? The annual genealogical event is staged at London’s Olympia and last year attracted over 14,000 visitors including me!

So who are the new organizers? Well BBC Magazines Bristol is an award-winning specialist interest arm of BBC Magazines. They are the publishers of the “Who Do You Think You Are?” Magazine and together with Wall To Wall will run the event. Brand Events will be acting as consultants for the 2011 event, so they have not bowed out completely.

Andy Healy, Show Director of Who Do You Think You Are? LIVE and Publisher of Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine, said: “This is a great opportunity for us to further help genealogists, from beginners to experts, delve deeper into their own stories. The event has been so successful over the past four years, it’s incredibly exciting to be taking it on at such a buoyant time for this industry.”

Claire Hungate, Commercial Director of the Shed Media Group, commented: “Brand Events have done an amazing job of launching the show and establishing it as the biggest genealogy event in the UK and we very much look forward to building on that success and further developing the show’s reach with BBC Magazines Bristol.”

I’m looking forward to attending the event and maybe catch up with some of you there?

Who Do You Think You Are? LIVE Olympia 2008
Who Do You Think You Are? LIVE Olympia
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Bankrupt Ancestors in Your Family Tree!

We all know that in today’s new economy people are getting themselves into debt. Worse still, for some, is the prospect of going bankrupt. It may seem that bankruptcy is a modern phenomena, well it isn’t. Getting into debt was also a common problem for our ancestors as well. As we all love a skeleton in the cupboard, just how can we find out if one of our family has had the problem to face back  in the Britain of the past? It would seem that we may be able to find out more online.

In my research into my family tree I remember chancing on some family notes that, on face value, seemed to identify one of my ancestors as having been a partner in a business enterprise that had failed. To start with I had had no inkling that my forebear, in question, had even been a merchant, so to learn that his enterprise had eventually hit the rocks was an interesting nugget of information in itself. As a bookseller, myself, and having read the Charles Dickins novel called Little Dorrit, which you will no doubt know is set in within a debtor’s prison, I wanted to find out if my own ancestor had faced being declared bankrupt.

In England, Bankruptcy goes all the way back to a statute of Henry VIII in 1542. The 1571 Bankruptcy Act brought about the idea that a bankrupt person would be able to settle their debts, by distributing what remaining assets they had, through independent commissioners. Up until 1705  the unfortunate debtor could never be discharged from bankruptcy and so the stigma would remain with them for ever!

Legally, Bankruptcy is a process in which a court official assumes charge of a qualifying debtor’s property so that a distribution can be made to the creditors of the debtor in a proportion to the sum that they are owed.

Only in the year 1869 was it that individuals who were not undertaking a business  of some sorts were able to become bankrupt. Before this date, ordinary people were known as being insolvent instead. These souls faced being sent to debtor’s prison and were not released until they had found a way to pay off their creditors. Bankruptcy, as such, applied strictly to people who were traders, that is those who bought and sold goods, or who worked some materials into things that they then sold.

District bankruptcy courts were first established outside of London from 1842. Then their jurisdiction passed on in 1869 to the County Courts. In the capital city the London Court of Bankruptcy was set up in 1869, before being absorbed into the High Court of Justice in 1883. Should you wish to find details of what’s available for you to search then I recommend taking a look at Access to Archives at http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/a2a/

Independent assessors, known as Commissioners, would determine if a debtor was eligible for bankruptcy or not. If they were satisfied that bankruptcy could take place, then they would publish a notice in the London Gazette declaring the debtor bankrupt. Also posted would be a list of potential creditors along with the dates set for meetings. The London Gazette’s archives are easily searched today on-line at www.london-gazette.co.uk. This is a fantastic resource  for any family historian hot on the trail of a bankruptcy. You are able to search the archives by date and name, then view a pdf image of the pages that your results have found. The London Gazette has been published since 1665 with a regular publication of bankruptcies stretching back to 1684 and also 1712 for insolvent debtors. Scottish notices can be found in the Edinburgh Gazette at : www.edinburgh-gazzette.co.uk

Family historians can locate case files for English bankruptcies at The National Archives in Kew, while Scottish sequestrations are to be found at The National Archives of Scotland. Unfortunately, for us, the majority of case files for England have not survived, but those that have are indexed on TNA’s online catalogue.

Other resources to consider are journals that published similar notices to the gazettes. These will include The Times; The Gentleman’s Magazine; Perry’s Bankrupt & Insolvent Gazette (1828-1861) and Perry’s Bankrupt Weekly Gazette (1862-1881). If you are looking for notices of bankruptcies in the County Court, then you will probably need to turn to local newspapers for the area in question. The British Library would be the place to look for these. Now we are also able to search contents of newspapers at http://newspapers.bl.uk/blcs.

Insolvent ancestors can be an interesting topic of research. Remember, however, that their hardship carried much more stigma than it does today. In modern times we can go into debt, declare ourselves bankrupt, or wipe out a huge chunk of our debt with the alternative Individual Voluntary Arrangement IVA. And yet none of us lives in the fear of being incarcerated in the debtor’s prison in the 21st century.

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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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North American Family History

Those family historians, who are researching their family trees back before the start of the census collections in North America, will be aware that they have to find some alternative records sets to find their ancestors. So what suggestions can we make?

Luckily I was reading up on this subject in last month’s Your Family Tree Magazine.. Issue 96 November 2010.

The article points out that first nominal census took place in 1850 in the USA and 1851 in Canada and so for those of you trying to find ancestors from before these census took place, then the best option available to you is to use the tax records.

What you are quickly going to find is that mostly only adult males are going to be listed in these records. Questions to consider are what age did a person have to be to be included in the poll tax and also what type of property were subject to tax? Best advice is to check out the relevant government regulations so that you can interpret accurately what the data is revealing.

Regretfully there are very few records of these taxes online, but Cyndi’s list is a good place to find links when they exist. www.cyndislist.com

Here you should find links to Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia.

Disclosure: Compensated Affiliate.

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