English Occupations: Finding More About Your Ancestor

A contact asked me about occupations recently and so I found them this really helpful article by professional genealogist Rosamunde Bott. I am sharing it here for everyone to read.

tracing ancestors in the uk

English Occupations: Finding More About Your Ancestor
By Rosamunde Bott

Whilst rooting around in your family history, you will learn what your ancestors did for a living – at least as far back to the early 1800s. This is often one of the most fascinating aspects of discovering who your ancestors were. Whether they were a lowly agricultural labourer, or a highly respected surgeon or magistrate, the curious and wide range of English occupations can lead you to further knowledge of how they lived their lives on a day to day basis. For some people it can be exciting to discover that a creative gene, such as writing or painting has made its way down to the present.

Much of this information can be found on the census, at least back to 1841, and sometimes beyond depending on the availability of records. Some earlier parish records did mention a man’s occupation, and other records, such as directories, wills, property deeds and tax records can also give occupational details.

Many of you will have come across occupations that are now obsolete, and will often need further explanation. What, for example, is a night soil man? Or a calenderer? Or a fag ender?

The first of these might have been found in any large town or city, emptying dry toilets in the days before plumbing. Not a job I would like to imagine any of my ancestors doing – but fascinating nonetheless.

The other two are connected to the textile industry, and will usually be found in those industrial areas where cotton was being produced – for example, Manchester. A calenderer was just a generic term for a textile industry worker. A fag ender was someone employed to trim off loose bits of cloth known as fags.

If you trawl through the census records for specific areas, you will of course find a wealth of occupations connected to that area’s industry. Sticking with Manchester for the moment, you will find many jobs associated with the cotton industry, and among the weavers, winders, packers and piecers you might also come across Fustian cutters (cloth workers who trim corded cloth), beamers (people who handle materials before weaving), billiers, billy roller operations or billymen (all terms for cotton spinners) or even an impleachers (cloth weavers).

When you find that an ancestor’s origins are in a particular area, it is worth while finding out about the major industries there, because this will no doubt have had some effect on your ancestor’s life, even if he (or she) was not directly involved in it.

For example, shoemakers are known everywhere – but a shoemaker working in Manchester would probably have had a different experience to a shoemaker who worked in a more rural area, or on the coast. Is he making shoes for factory workers, agricultural labourers, fishermen or for the well-to-do?

If your ancestor moved around, it was very likely it was to find work. Undertaking a bit of historical research on the local industries can give you a good indication of why your ancestor moved from one town to another. My own great-great grandfather started out as a bricklayer in Newcastle-under-Lyme, and moved to Birmingham where he became a builder and employer. You only need to find out about the building boom going on in Birmingham in the mid-19th century to work out why he made the choice to move!

Some occupations can lead you to finding further documentation. For example, workers in skilled trades may well have started out as an apprentice, and you may find the apprenticeship records at the local record office. These can give you further details about his origins and parentage.

If your ancestor worked for a big company, it may be worth finding out whether there are staff records in existence. If the company still exists, they may even keep their own set of archives.

Not only are occupations interesting in themselves – they can lead you to find out further information, whether it is more family records, or information about how your ancestor lived, and under what conditions. Much information about trades and occupations can be found on the internet, and there are many books about various trades and industries. The Society of Genealogists publishes a range of books entitled “My Ancestor was….”

Old English occupations are varied and wide-ranging, and they can tell you much about your ancestor. Make sure you always follow up this line of enquiry and find out as much as possible about what he (or she) did for a living.

Ros is a professional genealogist and runs a UK ancestry tracing service for UK and international researchers who need help with their UK ancestry. Ros offers a one-stop-shop tracing service for all UK ancestors, or record look-ups in Warwickshire and Birmingham. Find out more at Tracing Your Ancestors

Article Source:  English Occupations: Finding More About Your Ancestor

As a professional genealogist Ros has contributed some material to the Family History Researcher Course.

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Murderous Madam and the Policeman

George Le Cronier's Memorial, Green Street, St.Helier.

I’ve been having a look at the S&N newsletter, that popped into my email box at the end of the week.

What caught my eye was a fascinating Victorian murder story that took place in the St Helier streets quite local to where I live. I’ve come across it before in the book The Policeman and the Brothel by Theodore Dalrymple, but this is the first time that I’ve seen it written from the family history records point of view!

It was fascinating to see the Illustrated London News report from March 7th 1846; the census records, with the tell tale blanks for the occupations of the young  prostitutes, and the criminal records showing the killer was transported for life to Van Diemens land. Also to be seen is the huge monument for the murdered policeman in Green Street cemetery, a picture of which can be searched for in TheGenealogist’s growing Volunteer Headstone Database that now includes many Jersey burials.

 

The newsletter isn’t just about this story. They begin with a look at what will be coming online from their group throughout 2015:

Parish Records, detailed County and Tithe Maps, millions of new Medals Records, more Grave Memorials from the Volunteer Headstone Project, records of Railway Workers from Pensions to Staff Movements, Jewish records, detailed Street Maps, Passenger Lists, Emigration Records and more War Memorials are all going online at TheGenealogist this year.

And then we hear that this month they’ve released more War Memorials, Parish Records and have now added the 1911 census for all Starter and Gold Subscribers! You can make the most of this with £30 cash back on an Annual Gold Subscription, making it just £48.95 for the first year!

There’s no better way, they suggest, to start the new year than with some special offers – you can claim £50 cashback on a Diamond Subscription to TheGenealogist, and save £££s in their New Year Sale over at S&N Genealogy Supplies. The news letter also takes a look at 2014 in a review.

Finally, there is that interesting article I’ve already drawn you attention to above about Ancestors that fell foul of the law. As the S&N team write in the email, these are always fascinating subjects for family history research and I would say none more than a Victorian murder story of a notorious Madam who escaped the hangman’s noose!

 

The Genealogist - UK census, BMDs and more online

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Who Do You Think You Are? Live 2014

 

Who Do You Think You Are? Live

Its here!

The largest family history show in the world!

 

This week (Thursday 20th, Friday 21st and Saturday 22nd) Who Do You Think You Are? Live comes to Olympia with stands from all the major genealogical websites, family history suppliers, expert advice, talks from celebrities from the TV programme and a myriad of workshops.

The Nosey Genealogist will be there too on stand 56 showcasing our Family History Researcher Beginners English & Welsh Family History Course. As a special show offer we have re-introduced the popular £1 trial membership of our course that gives you two weeks lessons and some free bonus content.

To take advantage of this either come along to our stall, number 56 on the ground floor, or head over to our special trial webpage at http://www.familyhistoryresearcher.com/WDYTYAcomp/

The Nosey Genealogists has gathered together in one fixed-term-membership site a collection of 52 weekly lessons that will aid the beginner in English & Welsh family history to become a more knowledgeable researcher.

Also of great value to the more advanced, the course explores the different resources, data sets and documents that can reveal more about your English or Welsh ancestors.

 Nick Thorne

Written from the practical point of view by Nick Thorne, an advanced beginner (as even the most experienced researcher is always learning more) and, with the aid of some lessons penned by professional genealogists, this course is delivered by email to your inbox to do at your own pace.

 

Topics covered in the 12 months include:

  • The census collections
  • The Parish records
  • The Parish Chest
  • Dade Registers
  • County Record offices and what valuable treasures they contain
  • Nonconformist
  • Religious records
  • Clandestine marriages
  • City and Town Directories
  • Census substitutes
  • Apprentices
  • Professionals
  • Army
  • Royal Navy
  • RAF
  • Merchant Navy
  • Illegitimacy
  • The Workhouse
  • Poor Law
  • Death records
  • Burial
  • Wills
  • Rural ancestors
  • Bankrupts
  • Black sheep
  • Genetics and DNA
  • Occupations
  • Maps and Charts
  • The National Archives
  • Other depositories
  • Family Search Centres
  • Passports
  • Manorial records
  • Newspapers
  • and more!

 

If you are attending the show then do please come over and say hello and tell us that you read this blog. You will then be able to enter our competition to win a free copy of our next product due out soon!

 

WDYTYA?LIVE Olympia 2010

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Unique Lawyer and Electrical Engineer War Records now available to view on TheGenealogist

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…

Professional records

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, its’ members were at the forefront of technical advancements in the early 1900’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 ‘student’ member featured below.

 

TheG ProfWWISecond 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 ‘Roll of Honour’ section of the Military Records on TheGenealogist, the records are taken from the ‘The Roll of Honour of The Institution of Electrical Engineers’ publication and a ‘Roll of Enlistment’ publication produced by The Honourable Society of The Inner Temple.

Mark Bayley, Head of Online Content at TheGenealogist comments: “Using our ancestor’s occupations can lead us to find more information about events that happened in their lives. Here we’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. It’s a great source that can really boost our knowledge of an ancestor.”

 

 

The Genealogist - UK census, BMDs and more online

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TheGenealogist Releases Over One Million Apprentice and Master Records.

 

I’m very lucky to get all sorts of information sent to me, regarding family history, and this week I have interesting news about a new Apprentice and Masters database.

TheGenealogist has just released over one million Apprentice and master records for us to search online. This makes over two million searchable records when the apprentices from the census are included. What is more, these can both be searched together by using the keyword “apprentice” in TheGenealogist’s Master Search.

TheG apprenticeship John Sheppard

The site helps you find detailed records relating to the occupation of your ancestor. This is the first time you can find apprentices from a whole range of records between 1710 and 1911.

 

TheGenealogist’s is the largest searchable collection of apprentice records available online, allowing you to view how your ancestors developed their skills and also if they became a master in their profession.

 

These detailed records in IR1 cover the years from 1710 to 1811 giving name, addresses and trades of the masters, the names of the apprentices, along with the sum the master received and the term of the apprenticeship. Until 1752, it was also common to see the names of the apprentices’ parents on the record (often including their occupations).

 

So if you want to take a look for your ancestors then the new records are available to their Diamond subscribers in the Master Search and under the ‘Occupation Records’ section.

 

All in one search for family history

What is great is that you can search for both Apprentices and Masters.

 

TheGenealogist allows you to view the full transcript of an apprenticeship record to see more details of your ancestors apprenticeship – including when they started their training, the ‘Master’ who trained them and how long their apprenticeship was scheduled to be.

 

The Apprenticeship records provide an insight into a method of training that stood the test of time and are today, once again a popular method of training. Many apprentices did their training, worked their way up and then took on apprentices themselves. The Apprenticeship records allow you to trace this with just a few mouse clicks.

 

Then there is the handy keyword option. This also allows you to narrow down your search if you have an idea of the profession, or the area your ancestor worked in saving you even more time.

 

The new records are taken from the ‘IR1 Board of Stamps: Apprenticeship Books’ from The National Archives. As well as the new collection of records, apprentices can also be discovered in the transcribed ‘profession field’ of census records on TheGenealogist from 1841 to 1911.

 

The apprentice training route has for many people set them on their way in their working life or as a way of developing others. From James Hargreaves (inventor of the spinning jenny) to Thomas Yeoman (first President of The Society of Civil Engineers), to Sir Michael Caine who started as an apprentice plumber) to Beatle George Harrison who was an apprentice electrician, they have all experienced the apprenticeship programme.

 

This traditional way of training young people is now regaining popularity as the benefits our ancestors recognised are re-introduced as a way of giving people a start in a career.

 

Head over to TheGenealogist.co.uk now and search for your apprentice or master ancestors.

 

 

The Genealogist - UK census, BMDs and more online

 

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.

 

 

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Records of Mechanical and Civil Engineers published online

 

Ancestry.co.uk

 

I’ve just had an email from Ancestry and have immediately checked out their new records of Civil and Mechanical Engineers to see if I could find any of my engineer ancestors. If you have any that followed this career path then I’d recommend you too have a look now!

Just before I jump back to the data, that I have open in another window, here is their press release…

 

 

 

Today Ancestry.co.uk, has launched online for the first time the Civil and Mechanical Engineer Records, 1820-1930, detailing almost 100,000 of Britain’s brightest inventors and innovators from the 19th and 20th centuries.

 

The digitised records were collated from the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) and the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE), and reveal fascinating details about the institutions’ members, including pioneers of automobiles, bicycles and even hydropower.

 

Many were behind some of the notable inventions of the age, including one of the foremost designers of the internal combustion engine (Ricardo) and even an early sniper rifle (Whitworth). Others created some weird and wonderful designs, including a cucumber straightener (Stephenson), an elaborate mousetrap, and early forms of amusement rides (both Maxim).

 

The collection comprises membership records and photographs of engineers who were members of both institutions between 1820 and 1930, and provides a unique insight into their careers and accomplishments.

 

Before the 1700s, engineers in Europe had been almost all military men. Although civil engineering work had been carried out before then, it had not been recognised as an identifiable profession. The Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) was formed in 1818 with a mission to ‘foster and promote the art of civil engineering’.

 

Founded in 1847, IMechE was formed for the growing number of mechanical engineers who were employed in the flourishing railway and manufacturing industries. The institution’s first president, rail pioneer George Stephenson is known for designing the ‘Geordie lamp’ used by miners. A record of Stephenson’s membership appears in the collection, along with a photograph.

 

Other famous engineers who appear in the collection include:

  • Isambard Kingdom Brunel – Brunel was known for building dockyards, the Great Western Railway, a series of steamships including the first propeller-driven transatlantic steamship and numerous important bridges and tunnels. His designs revolutionised public transport and modern engineering. Brunel’s membership form for the Civil Engineers isincluded in the collection, dated 27 January 1829.
  • Sir John Rennie – In 1815 Rennie assisted his father, who was another famous engineer, in the erection of Southwark Bridge, and later undertook the construction of London Bridge in 1824, which was opened in 1831, the same year he was knighted. His membership was passed by the council of the Mechanical Engineers in 1844 after ‘many years in the profession’.
  • Christopher Hinton – Hinton was a British nuclear engineer and supervisor of the construction of Calder Hall, the world’s first large-scale commercial nuclear power station. Born in 1901, Hinton’s application to join the Mechanical Engineers is in the records, dated 1921.  

 

Sir F Henry Royce is another famous engineer listed in the records; he is known globally as the co-founder of the quintessentially British Rolls-Royce manufacturing company where his engineering legacy lives on today. Frederick W. Lanchester, another of the so-called ‘big three’ English car engineers, celebrated for his innovative work on gas and petrol engines as well as his later research into aeronautics and flight theory, is also featured.

 

Aside from cars, prolific railway engineer Thomas Brassey appears in the records. Upon his death in 1870, Brassey was responsible for one in every 20 miles of railway in the world. Irishman Thomas Andrews is also listed as the chief naval architect of the ill-fated Titanic and he lost his life on its maiden voyage in 1912.

 

ICE received a royal charter in 1828 and by the end of the 19th century had become both an educational and qualifying body when it introduced examinations for civil engineers.

 

IMechE started graduate examinations in 1913 and elected its first female member, Verena Holmes, in 1924. She got her first job building wooden propellers at the Integral Propeller Company in Hendon and went on to patent many of her own inventions including medical headlamps, poppet valves and apparatus for treating patients with tuberculosis. ICE’s first female member, Dorothy Donaldson Buchanan, is also included in the records, becoming a member in 1927.

 

Miriam Silverman, UK Content Manager, from Ancestry.co.uk comments: “Included within this collection are some of the brightest brains Britain has ever produced, who were responsible for some of the country’s most iconic landmarks and feats of innovative design. Today, as it was then, engineering is a vital part of the country’s economy and it is fascinating to be able to learn more about the men and women who established this legacy.

 

“Not only do these records provide a unique insight into engineering during the 19th and 20th centuries but they will provide a valuable resource for anybody trying to trace an ancestor within the collection.”

 

The new database comprises three collections; the Mechanical Engineer Records, 1870-1930, the Civil Engineer Records, 1820-1930 and the Civil Engineer Photographs, 1829-1923, each of which is available to view from today online at Ancestry.co.uk.

 

 

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HALF A MILLION HISTORIC WILTSHIRE RECORDS AVAILABLE ONLINE

Ancestry.co.uk

MOONRAKERS, QUAKERS AND CHOCOLATE MAKERS – HALF A MILLION HISTORIC WILTSHIRE RECORDS AVAILABLE ONLINE .

I can remember visiting an uncle and aunt in Wiltshire, as a boy, and remembering how attractive the county looked. Those of you researching your ancestors from this area will be please by the announcement from Ancestry.co.uk that they have expanded their collection online.

Ancestry.co.uk,  has just launched online Wiltshire Church Records, 1538 – 1897 and Wiltshire Quaker Birth & Death records 1542 – 1897, a combined collection of more than half a million historic Anglican and Quaker marriage, birth and death records – offering unique insight into the history of many non-conformists in Wiltshire.

 

Spanning over 350 years, the records include more than 500,000 marriages from all 327 Wiltshire parishes, as well as more than 3,300 Wiltshire Quaker births and deaths.

 

Well-known as the home of ancient Neolithic site Stonehenge and for its wool-producing history, the county of Wiltshire was home to many members of the prominent Quaker family the Frys. Included in the collection are birth records for Cornelius and William Storrs Fry – brothers of chocolate dynasty founder Joseph Fry, whose chocolate company Fry, Vaughan & Co was famed for creating the first ever chocolate Easter egg in the UK.

 

The records are available to search by criteria including name, age and residence and in some cases detail addresses, occupations and parents’ names.

 

Miriam Silverman, Senior Content Manager at Ancestry.co.uk said “These records are a fantastic resource for anyone interested in finding out more about their ancestors in Wiltshire – non-conformist or otherwise. The collection is also a significant addition to the Wiltshire records we currently have on Ancestry.co.uk, including almost 27,000 Wiltshire Extracted Parish Records.”

 

For more information, visit www.ancestry.co.uk

 

 

Disclosure: The Links in the above are Compensated Affiliate links. If you click on them then I may be rewarded by Ancestry.co.uk should you sign up for their subscription.

 

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My Ancestor was a Tide Waiter!

Last week I was writing about my findings from a search for one of my ancestors who married in South Devon in 1866. I had taken a look at the Church Register for The New Parish of Christ Church Plymouth and found my ancestor Samuel Stephens marrying Mary Ann Westlake on the 16th December.

What took my interest was that his father, Robert Stephens, was noted under Rank or Profession as being a Tide Waiter. He also lived in Plymouth being born in1805 and to his death.

Tide Waiter Ancestor at www.NoseyGenealogist.comAs many of us pursuing our family history have no doubt found, some of our ancestors had jobs that have disappeared or are now known by different names today.

I immediately wondered what type of occupation this Tide Waiter was, as previously I had seen him mentioned in the census as an “Extra Gent”.

What an ancestor’s occupation was can often give us a greater insight into their life. It is also a useful way of distinguishing between two people who happen to have the same name and between whom you are trying to work out which one belongs to your family tree and which one does not.

We can be interested in a forebear’s occupation for the reason that it may have some relevance in determining a person’s social status, political affiliation, or migration pattern.

Skilled trades were often passed down from father to son and so having regard to an ancestor’s occupation may also be a useful tool in identifying a family relationship with others of the same name. Now Samuel and his father Robert did not seem to share a trade here, but it is important to remember that people could change their occupation over their life.

One of these gentlemen’s descendants changed from being a gunsmith to working in a pawn brokers and another who changed from being a cordwainer (shoemaker) to being a boatman on the river over their working life.

Names for old or unfamiliar local occupations have the potential to cause us to stumble if they are poorly legible in the record we are consulting. I can think of the example of the similarity between the words ostler (a keeper of horses) and a hostler (an innkeeper) that is easily confused.

If you are ever in this position then remember that you too can look for occupational data in several places. It may be found in the records of occupational licenses, tax assessments, the membership records of professional organisations to which our ancestors belonged, trade, city and town directories, census returns, and civil registration vital records.

There are a number of websites available that explain many of the obscure and archaic
trades, here are two that I have found:

http://www.rmhh.co.uk/occup/index.html

or

http://www.occupationalinfo.org/dot_index.html#MENU

So what was my Tide Waiter forebear? He was a Customs Officer who went aboard ships to search them for the revenue. This is made plain on the birth certificate for Samuel as his occupation is simply recorded as Customs Officer.

I found the scanned image of the marriage record in the Parish Records from Plymouth and West Devon at Find My Past.


Disclosure: The Link in the above box is a Compensated Affiliate link. If you click on the ad then I may be rewarded by Findmypast.co.uk should you sign up for any of their subscriptions.

 

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What Family History Data Sets Are You Missing?

Most users of the main genealogical subscription sites will probably use the census data sets and birth marriage and death records and pretty much nothing else.

This is a real waste of their subscriptions as there is so much else to be plumbed from these treasure troves.

TheGenealogist.co.uk
TheGenealogist.co.uk

I was looking at the amazing full colour pdf images of wills on TheGenealogist.co.uk this week and also at the Register of Landowners, completed in 1873, that is something like the Griffith’s Valuation lists for Ireland, but for Britain instead. In this database you can find the names of owners of, or those that rented more than an acre of land in England, Wales and Scotland.

TheGenealogist.co.uk also has a set of poll books for various counties of England and Wales, and, for those of you that wish to delve back further than the 17th century and who have landed gentry in your line, there is the heraldic Visitations.

The Poll books give names, addresses, occupations and show how people voted in the election. The Poll Books that are available on TheGenealogist pre-date the census records and go back as far as the 1700s, making them a valuable resource for family historians.

Heraldic Visitations began in 1530 and were tours of inspection undertaken by Kings of Arms in order to regulate and register the coats of arms of nobility and gentry, and to record pedigrees. By the fifteenth century many families were adopting coats of arms as symbols of wealth and power but not all had a legitimate claim to them. As surviving visitation records include pedigrees and often the evidence that was used to prove these, including family details, background and ages, their records provide important source material for genealogists.

Visitation Records are currently available for individual counties and the whole of England and Wales, with years ranging from 1530 – 1921.

Another specialist set is the List of Bankrupts with Their Dividends 1786-1806.

 

This is just an example of a few of the data resources that can so easily be missed by the family historian, and we are talking of one example of a subscription website here!

The hundreds of other databases to be explored within the other sites such as Ancestry, findmypast, the Origins.net and so on that so many do not use, is staggering.

 

Take a look today!

The Genealogist - UK census, BMDs and more online

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 any of their subscriptions.

 

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