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!

 

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Tips for Researching Family History

 

At the largest Family history show in the world, Who Do You Think You Are? Live in London, I decided to ask the expert on the Association of Genealogists and Researchers in Archives for his tips on researching your family tree. I was looking for some material to include in a module of my courses on English/Welsh family history in which several experts advice will be collated for students.

As I’m feeling generous I’m going to share this piece with you for free here in this blog post today.

 

For those people who are starting to do family history, then one of the most important things is to take notice of anything that you are told by your relatives. Because, although the information may not be 100 percent true, there is always something that somebody will know that can help give you an idea as to where to go on and find other records.

It’s important that you afford the information in official documents with a certain level of importance. Although that information recorded is only as good as that given by the informant at the time. So beware that any information on a birth certificate, or a census record, can be wrong from day one because the person supplying it didn’t want the officials to know the real truth.

This can confuse people doing their family tree research. The best way of proceeding is to make sure that you look at every type of document available to you. So look at a civil registration certificate. Look at a parish register. Look at a census; try and get a will and look at anything else that will give you the full details relevant to that particular individual.

Doing your family history research that way you’re able to build up a fuller picture.

As you progress you will find that it becomes more complex and you’ll find that you may hit brick walls. You may find that you have conflicting information on an ancestor and that in some instances it’s going to be necessary for you to actually go along and work different lines of the family, investigate different individuals.

What you have got to do is make sure that you eliminate those people that aren’t part of your family. Its ever so easy to go down a wrong line because you haven’t been clear enough in making sure the family or the individual that you have is the right person. And sometimes that’s beyond the experience and the expertise of the average family historian and that’s where you need to talk to the professionals.

That’s where members of ARGA, The Association of Genealogists and Researchers in Archives can help because they are accredited researchers. They have proven their ability to do this type of family research and while they might not be able to find all the answers, they are better placed than many of us to do so.

The reason why even a professional may draw a blank is that if an ancestor didn’t want to be found in officialdom, then they wont be! Irrespective of how good you are and how through you are, this may sadly be the case. Having said that, however, you stand a better chance with using a professional because they perhaps know a little bit more of the overall number documents that they can use to do just that.

 

If you want to brush up your own skills in English/Welsh family research then give a thought to taking my English family history course by visiting www.FamilyHistoryResearcher.com

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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.”

 

 

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Want To Know What Your Ancestor’s Town Looked Like?

 

Jersey - St AubinSomething that I have always believed in is that family history, as opposed to straight forward genealogy, needs the lives of our ancestors to be put into the social context of the times that they lived in. One of the really powerful ways to do this, I find, is to look at images from the past.

For that reason I am really bowled over with the new addition to TheGenealogist’s website that gives us a taste of what life was like in the times of our ancestors, through the medium of old photographs.

TheGenealogist has become the first family history website to launch a dedicated new Image Archive, which includes hundreds of unique 3D photos and thousands of standard images dating from 1850 to 1940!

What is brilliant is that the new Image Archive is a free to use service that allows researchers the opportunity to relive the past through the eyes of their ancestors at: www.TheGenealogist.co.uk/imagearchive

If you are a Diamond subscriber to TheGenealogist then you will have further access to the Image Archive to download the images in a high resolution format for the greatest possible clarity.

The Image Archive is fully searchable using the title of the photo itself, or you can  just add a keyword to narrow down your search as I did to look at St Aubin, a village in Jersey, which is a place that is particularly well known to me. I can recognise buildings that are still there today, such as part of the current Spar shop that was, circa 1900 when the photograph was taken, Beresford’s General Supply Stores.

I then flipped to London and a view of Fleet Street, which I know from a stint working in a travel company based in what was an old newspaper office there.

Then on to Birmingham and to view streets that I can recognise have changed little from the first floor up (Corporation Street, for example) and those that by the time I lived in that city, in the late 1970s and 80s, had been demolished to make way for new schemes. So, by using this website, I could see what the Bull Ring looked like in the past. Then there was Five Ways, that I only know as a huge three lane roundabout, but was an atmospheric setting in the old images on TheGenealogist.

 

All the photos are rated so you can see which photos are of the highest quality. There is also a selection of main search categories and sub-categories to help you find photos of interest, quickly and easily. They are also rated for quality so you can see how good the picture is before you download it.

Hundreds of the images are available in stunning 3D to really bring the past to life!

3d picture from TheGenealogist

With scenes of the hustle and bustle of Market Day to the drama of war, there is a selection to view as both 3D moving images or as 3D Red blue images or in a standard format if you prefer. Digitally enhanced by creative experts at TheGenealogist, add a greater depth to that photo from the past!

Take a look for yourself here.

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Middle Names in Family Tree Research

 

Thorne family from Dartmouth, Devon. I’ve been helping an old friend starting out in researching their family history in this week and he had noted that some of his family all had the same middle name.

The question, that he had, was would it be likely that it was a family surname from one of the female lines and being passed down to honour that family connection.

From what research I have done, by reading around, it would seem that  it was quite common for children to be baptised with a second name taken from a family surname that was, perhaps, the mother’s or grandmother’s maiden surname.

Mark Herber, in Ancestral Trials, The History Press; New Ed edition (1 Jun 2005) makes this point when introducing genealogical research in chapter 1 of this comprehensive book. But hold on a minute, before you jump to the conclusion that the name you have found must be attributable to another branch of your family.

In the picture, that I have included here, from a Thorne family bible  just one of that generation were given names that honoured their forebears surnames and that was Ellen Florence Malzer Thorne, the Malzer name being her mother’s maiden name.

The generation before (Henry Thomas Thorne’s siblings)  were given a variety of conventional second names until the family broke with the C of E and became members of the Flavel Memorial (Presbyterian/Independent/Congregational) church.

At this stage several of Henry’s brothers and sisters were baptised with the middle name of Lemon. I am yet to understand who they were being named after so if any of my readers can put me on the right path then post a comment below or on my facebook page: www.facebook.com/NoseGenealogist

Certainly the parents of these children, John Brandon Thorn and Elizabeth Gardiner Thorn, were usefully named after their mothers and so made the search for them in the parish records all the easier.

So the conclusion is that an unusual middle name may point you to the maiden name of your ancestor or, regretfully, it may not!

 

Another point, that I have noticed, is that people may adopt a middle name and later generations begin passing it on as they assume it to be an ancestral name. Perhaps it was someone that they admired greatly, or perhaps it was indeed a family name.

For someone I was researching this week I discovered that they were not given a middle name in the church register when they were baptised and yet they begin to use this middle name and so do the generations that followed. Perhaps it was someone that they admired greatly, but it was certainly not noted in the parish register at the time of their baptism!

My research this week has been greatly helped by the fact that more parish records have made it online. My friend’s family were from the Birmingham area of Northfields. Now very much a suburb of Birmingham but in the years I was researching between 1769 and 1820 part of the county of Worcestershire.

Ancestry.co.uk have many records available for this area including the images of parish records from a partnership with the Library of Birmingham.



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Don’t Ignore Ancestor’s Death Certificates

 

Thorne graves in Dartmouth, DevonMany of us are keen to get on and fill out our family trees with generation after generation of ancestors. We can be in such a rush, to see how far back we can get with a direct line, that we so often ignore the siblings and others in the extended family.

We probably all know that there is a better way to understand our forebears lives. We really should try to include as many others in the family tree as our direct line ancestor usually didn’t live in isolation. They may have had any number of brothers and sisters, cousins, aunts and uncles, all of whom can help us ascertain who is the correct individual when we hit that problem of two John Smiths born in the same year in the same parish!

One way that we may come up against other family members is when they appear as informants to the registrar on the death of one of our ancestors.

Sometimes we may see names that we don’t recognise in the column, perhaps they are the married daughter whose surname now gives us a clue as to whom she married. Or we find our direct line ancestor’s address, as I did when he reported the death of his father to the registrar and the address he gave was different from the address listed in the census six years earlier. I could now see where he had moved to between the decennial census.

 

I know that we seem to be more naturally drawn to the births and marriages of people, but don’t ignore the deaths. When we are dealing with the period after 1837, in England and Wales and the GRO civil registration, it is so easy to make a decision not to order a death certificate based on the cost. But this can mean you’ll miss something. A death certificate can give us clues and more about our departed ancestor that we will not pick up elsewhere.

When I started out on this hobby I was told by a professional genealogist that I really must “kill off my ancestors!” I was unconvinced, but in the years since I have seen how correct this advice has been.

 

This week I bought a new family history book, written by Celia Heritage, to go in my library.

I have to say that I am thoroughly enjoying reading it for the great information that it provides. Tracing Your Ancestors through Death Records  has showed me how to find, read and interpreted death records and also how to garner as much information as possible from them. In many cases, she argues, they can be used as a starting point for developing your family history research into other equally rewarding areas.

Tracing Your Ancestors Through Death Records

http://www.pen-and-sword.co.uk/Tracing-Your-Ancestors-through-Death-Records/p/3710/?aid=1101

 

After reading chapter 1, I was then able to get a snap shot into my past family’s life from the deaths of my 3x great-grandparents and all from taking another look at their death certificates.

 

The husband died in 1866 in Charles Street, Dartmouth and his son reported the death having been “present at the death” meaning that he was in the house. The son (my 2x great-grandfather) gave his address as “Church Path, Dartmouth”.

When the wife and mother died in 1868, she died in the son’s house, in Church Path, but the informant, “present at the death”, was a lady whose address was in the street that the older couple had formally lived. I was able to go back to the census and see that they had been neighbours. Perhaps they were very close, who can tell?

So I am assuming that the son took his mother into his own house, from this. But that a friend, from around the corner, was looking after my 3x great-grandmother when she passed away and it was she who informed the registrar of the death. Now this paints a bit more of a picture, don’t you think?

 

 Disclosure: Links to the book in this post are compensated affiliate links that may mean I get rewarded by the publisher should you buy the book.

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The Idle Poor and the Deserving

 

Southwell WorkhouseI 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 “Go On the Parish” 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 “indoor relief” 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.

Workhouse tasks

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?

There will be more detail about the workhouse inside my course on English and Welsh family history at: http://www.FamilyHistoryResearcher.com

 

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8th May The Anniversary of VE Day

forces-war-recordsThe 8th May 1945 signalled the end of WWII and became VE Day – ‘day of the people’. Everybody had their own way of celebrating, and also remembering the fallen, of not just WWII, but also WWI.

Behind War Headlines and Historic Records Are People.

Behind the headlines of war and historic records are people – YOUR relations – and Forces War Records are constantly striving to help you add colour to your ancestor’s past.

I got contacted this week by the Forces War Records website reminding me that the 8th of May is the anniversary of VE Day.

They told me about how their website was evolving and how they are relentlessly adding new records and fresh information to it. It seems around 200,000 records a month! This could mean brand new insight for you – so it could be well worth visiting the site and searching their records regularly for any new information on your relatives that may have served Britain in the Second World War.

 

If you are short on time and would like some help with your research then you can also visit the site for details on how to conveniently hire a Forces War Records Researcher.

They promise that “As we are growing and developing we will be introducing many more educational features, medals descriptions, tips on genealogy research, and opinion led articles on the website’s blog that you can comment on and get involved with.”

The website has many other features that you may not be aware of, including a growing ‘historic documents’ library where you can view old newspaper cuttings and original periodicals from wartime such as ”The War Illustrated’. There’s really nothing quite like seeing the original material that your relatives might have read.

 

As you can imagine, Forces War Records are receiving interesting records, wartime books, periodicals, original newspapers, letters, pictures, and real stories all the time.

You can also visit the site for all their latest company news and offers.

I’ll leave you with a quote from the people that run the site: ” Forces War Records is not like other genealogy sites – we offer niche records and a wealth of historic information that you simply wouldn’t find anywhere else.”

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

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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

 

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Ancestor’s Marriage Certificate Throws Up Questions.

Copy wedding certificate arrives in postI have been looking more closely at an ancestor’s marriage certificate and have notice some interesting anomalies. When I had first come across the marriage of  my 2x great-grandparents, Henry Thorn and Ellen Malser, on the familysearch.org website I had noted that the marriage was recorded in the register of St.Mary’s Portsea, a parish in Portsmouth, on the south coast of England. The wedding took place on the 5th of February 1859 while Henry was employed in the Naval Dockyard as a ropemaker.

I had assumed that the church, in which they married, was St.Marys and so this is what I recorded in my family tree at the time, but now I am not so sure. As you know, good practice for family historians teaches us to always seek out the original document. Looking at the online indexes I found the information that I would need to order their marriage certificate from the General Register Office.

When I had it in my possession I noticed that it did not say the Parish Church in St Marys Portsea. Instead it reads: Marriage solemnized at “the church” in the Parish of… followed by an indecipherable set of scratches!

The first resembles a “P” and then follows some strong up and down strokes which do not give us the whole picture of the letters. I tried to match them with legible letters in the rest of the certificate but I can not make them spell St.Marys! It is possible, I think, that the word may have been Portsea, but even of that I can not be sure.

Using the map search tool on familysearch.org (http://maps.familysearch.org/) I researched other churches in Portsea. A tip here is to use the town name and not the church, or parish – if I had entered “St Marys Portsea” it would not have worked. The result returned was a number of C of E churches in the area, all carved out of the ancient parish of Portsea.

From the marriage certificate I could see that both the bride and the groom gave their address as Raglan Street, Portsea. Returning to the familysearch.org map tool I was able to see that this road fell into two parishes, the further along its length you traveled. St Marys Portsea was the Parish Church for those living in the west and St Jude’s Southsea in the east.

The trouble is that neither of these fall happily into the pattern of strokes, that are all that can be seen in this particular wedding certificate. Can I assume that as St Marys was the mother church of Portsea that convention dictated it was the Parish of Portsea?

Wedding in the Parish of...There are more questions about this particular certificate which I will deal with in my next post.

For more great tips to get your family tree back before 1837 in England & Wales  buy my CD:

How To Get Back Before 1837 in England & Wales.

Help Me Get Back Before 1873 in My English Family Tree

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