Twiggy’s Family History on Who Do You Think You Are?

 

wdytya2014_twiggy  In the last of the present series and in a show that was the 100th from the BBC of the gripping genealogical programme, we were treated to 60’s icon, model and fashion designer Twiggy.

And what a great show it was.

Twiggy’s Who Do You Think You Are? research revealed that she has a family history story filled with colourful characters, leading lives as eventful as her own has been.

The story of her great-great-grandmother who turned to crime “uttering forged coins” (passing them in payment) and spending time in a Victorian prison. The same woman and her daughter who were prosecuted for stealing a significant amount of money from the girls employer. The mother, having taken all the responsibility and being convicted, doing hard labour.

Others who ended up in the workhouse and the tale of the parish, when faced with having to support the inmates of this harsh institution, prosecuted the husband for abandonment of his wife and children and had him committed to jail with hard labour.

The fact that the convicted man’s occupation was that of a Slater, a hard job dependent on seasonal employment and from his death records we discover that he had a strangulated hernia. All of which point to another era when the welfare state did not exist to provide the safety net that we all so much take for granted today.

So why did the Workhouse exist? Why was there such fear on the part of the administrators of the Parish Poor Relief that they made conditions harsher than those that a labourer on the outside had to endure?

Workhouse tasks
Picking oakum (pulling apart old rope) was a punishment in prison for Twiggy’s 2x great-grandmother. It was also the task given to Workhouse inmates.

 

 

For centuries in England, those who fell on hard times would become the responsibility of their parish. The old poor law system had coped well enough until around 1800 new demands on the system caused the government to think again.

Unemployment had risen to new heights, a consequence of the growing industrialisation of the country that now needed less men to make the goods that previously had been created in the old cottage industries.

Another pressure on the poor law came from the disaster of a succession of bad harvests that meant those who subsisted in rural areas found it difficult to feed themselves.

Then, on top of this, the ending of the Napoleonic Wars caused a great many soldiers to return from France with no work to go to.

In today’s United Kingdom, we often refer to a North South divide with the balance being towards the richer South. In the 1800s the industrial north, with its large cotton mills and other factories, fared better than the South where fewer industries existed to employ those people who had previously worked on the land and were no longer required.

As the situation got worse for the government, by 1832 they believed that they had to overhaul the poor law system and the way in which the poor relief was distributed. A Royal Commission was asked to look into it and as a result parliament passed the Poor Law Amendment Act of 1834.

A belief was widely held in the country that the poor were often undeserving of the money. That they were idle if they had no work. Under the new Act Parishes were compelled to ban together into Poor Law Unions that often covered a 20 mile radius and each Union a Board of Guardians were chosen to administer the new system.

The biggest result of this change that could have affected your ancestors was the provision of a workhouse in each Union.

Five hundred plus of these Union Workhouses were constructed during the next 50 years with two-thirds of them having been built by 1840.

Although workhouses were not a new phenomenon, under the old system most of the unemployed would have received poor relief while continuing to live in their own homes (so called “out relief”).

Any parishioners, now needing help after the passing of the new law, were compelled to live inside the workhouse, where conditions were made as harsh as possible so as to discourage all but those who were desperate from applying.

Families were split up. Men and women segregated with children over seven separated from their mothers and forced to live in the children’s section.

On admission the poor would have to undress, have their clothes taken away from them until they were discharged. They would have had a thorough wash and then dress in the workhouse uniform of rough shapeless material. This stripping away of identity was all part of the discouragement from claiming indoor relief.

 

I have more on the Poor Laws, the Workhouse and Crime and punishment as just some of the many topics covered in my comprehensive Family History Researcher Academy course for anyone researching their English/Welsh family history. At the moment there is a Special Offer trial from the link on this page of £1 for the first two weeks!

Read what some of my past members have said:

“I am finding the course very useful, even though I have been doing family history for many years.  Kind regards. ” H.Stephens

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Daring First World War escapees revealed

 

 

TheGenealogist.co.uk
TheGenealogist.co.uk

With Monday being the 100th anniversary of the start of the First World War there are many new records online.

With all the websites highlighting their records for the war that was meant to be “the war to end all wars” we have quite a choice.

So I was looking for something distinct to look at this week.

Luckily I’ve heard from the team at TheGenealogist about some new records that approach WWI from a slightly different angle.

 

TheGenealogist has just released for the first time two million military records that have uncovered the determined Allied servicemen who escaped from First World War POW Camps.

These new records include both officers and other ranks, listing those men who endured the hardships and often brutal regimes as a prisoner of war. It’s an area of the Great War that is very rarely looked at.

The hardship and disease that became rife in the camps made many men look to escape. The Allied Officers, although held in slightly better conditions, also had an unwritten code that it was every officer’s duty to try to escape and many tried and failed.

The new release gives details of the Allied Officers behind the escape attempt at Holzminden Camp, near Hannover in 1918, where a tunnel was dug for 8 months using cutlery as digging tools. 29 men escaped, 19 were eventually caught but 10 got away and returned to England. Their daring escape inspired the prisoners in the famous ‘Great Escape’ of The Second World War.

Holzminden Camp held a number of high profile Allied servicemen. Conditions were harsh as it was used for the most troublesome prisoners, who made regular escape attempts. Prisoners listed on TheGenealogist’s records include Michael Claude Hamilton-Bowes-Lyon (The Queen’s Uncle), William Leefe Robinson (who shot the first German airship down over London and who was kept in solitary confinement for repeated escape attempts) and James Whale (future Hollywood Director of ‘Frankenstein’).

Mark Bayley, Head of Online Content at TheGenealogist, commented:
“Our new unique records are a great resource to track down those First World War ancestors. With our extensive range of military records it’s now possible to find out if your ancestor was a casualty or taken prisoner of war of if they were one of the lucky ones who made it through unscathed. With this being the centenary year of the outbreak of The First World War, it is the perfect time to explore your family tree and discover the war service of your ancestors.”

 

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650,000 World War One Military Records

All in one search for family historyI got a piece from the team at TheGenealogist today.

It tells of their most recent release of World War I records and the unique nature of the launch that links records of Soldiers who died in the First World War to their war graves.

These War Office records give full details about a soldier and are linked to where they are buried or commemorated on a memorial.

 

For the first time it is now possible to find the death record of an ancestor who fought and died in the First World War and with one further mouse-click, discover where they are buried or commemorated through a unique link to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website which provides colour images and details on the War Cemetery including exact location, brief history of the regiments involved and the battles fought.

 

In a matter of seconds it is possible to trace an ancestor and gain an idea of the history of the battle or military importance of the location of where they fell. It really helps speed up your military research.

 

From 16 year old Private John Parr, who was the first British soldier to be killed in action on the 21st August 1914 on a patrol north east of Mons, to the last British soldier to die, Private George Edwin Ellison, who fought in most of the major World War One battles only to be killed an hour and a half before the Armistice on 11 November 1918 on patrol on the outskirts of Mons. Both John Parr and George Ellison are buried facing each other at the St Symphorien Military Cemetery having fought and died in ironically the same area of the Western Front, only four years apart emphasising the stalemate of the First World War.

 

The records link through to TheGenealogist’s other unique military records such as Prisoner of War records, casualty lists and war memorials. For instance you can find the record of Harry Topliffe within this new record set, showing us he enlisted with the Duke of Cambridge’s Own (Middlesex Regiment) and was living in Stamford Brook, Middlesex.

 

Harry was posted to Mesopotamia to fight the Turkish Army. A Prisoner of War record shows that he was imprisoned in Kut-El-Amara and a casualty list record shows that he died there, as a Prisoner. Harry is also listed in TheGenealogist’s War Memorial records, on a memorial within the Harrod’s store in London (he was an employee within the removals department). TheGenealogist then uniquely links to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission to show that he was buried in the Baghdad North Gate War Cemetery.

 

The 650,000 records of the soldiers who died in the First World War provide full details of the serviceman, including full name, where they were born, place of residence, place of enlistment, their rank and service number, cause and date of death and the regiment they served with.

 

Mark Bayley, Head of Online Content at TheGenealogist.co.uk, comments: “This latest release adds to our unique military collection. These records are great for those looking into what happened to their ancestor in the First World War. With the direct link from the soldiers who died on to the various other collections we hold, along with a link to where they are commemorated, one click gives you the story behind your ancestor’s military history.”

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Family History Research in England & Wales: The 1939 Register is coming!

 

image001

News out today from the British-owned online family history company DC Thomson Family History (the people behind findmypast amongst other websites) and The National Archives that they are entering into a joint project to make the records of 40 million civilians held in the 1939 register available online.

When they have got this data digitised, it is estimated by the company that the collection will comprise of near enough 1.2 million scanned full-colour images of documents. As the records cover the entire civilian population of England & Wales at the outbreak of WWII, this is quite a significant release for those of us researching our English or Welsh family tree.

What was the 1939 register?

It was taken on 29 September 1939 by the British Government and recorded personal details of individuals in order to issue identity cards and ration books. In later years it became the basis of the National Health Service’s records.

Findmypast say that , when complete, the 1939 register will be fully searchable online for the first time, opening up the past to a new generation of family and social historians, just as the 1911 census did on its release in 2009.

So what can we expect to find once this set becomes available to us?

The records contain the address, full name, date of birth, sex, marital status and occupation of individuals, as well as changes of name. Although the Register is literally within living memory for many people, information about living individuals will be kept closed for 100 years from their year of birth, or until proof of death has been authenticated.

From today, anybody interested in being kept informed about the project can register at www.1939register.co.uk.

Annelies Van Den Belt, CEO of DC Thomson Family History said: “This announcement is great news not just for British family historians and those with British relatives, but for anyone with an interest in history itself; providing a fascinating snapshot of the country as it stood on the edge of the most widespread conflict in human history.

“This significant project will bring these records to a global audience for the first time, and combined with the 1.8 billion records already available on our websites will make it easier than ever to begin your family history journey and uncover the powerful stories that lie within and that make us who we are.”

Mary Gledhill, Commercial Director, at The National Archives, added: “The National Archives is delighted to be working with DC Thomson Family History to open up this unique record collection to the world, allowing history enthusiasts to discover more about the people at the outbreak of the Second World War. In the absence of a 1931 and 1941 census, this collection is all the more valuable to family historians trying to trace their ancestors.”

The 1939 register project is the latest contract to be awarded to DC Thomson Family History by The National Archives. Record sets previously digitised by the company in association with The National Archives include Crime, Prisons and Punishment; outbound passenger lists; British Army Service records; Merchant Navy Seamen’s records; Maritime Birth, Marriage and Death indexes and the 1911 census.

Great news for those of us researching our recent ancestors from England & Wales. One of the most anticipated family history projects since the 1911 census.


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‘National Union of Teachers’ War Records from 1914 to 1919

 

I was passing by a village war memorial this week, still resplendent with its poppy wreaths from the  remembrance day service. I took to wondering about who these named individuals, carved in stone, were and what their lives had been before they went off to fight and die for their country.

So it is sort of apt that I just got this in from TheGenealogist. It deals with the National Union of Teacher’ War Records, giving some insight into one set of professionals who answered the call to go to war.

 

The Diamond subscription on TheGenealogist now has over 18,000 new records to access from the ‘National Union of Teachers’ War Records from 1914 to 1919. These records include a list of teachers who joined the forces, those who received honours, and also those who were sadly killed, plus other information relating to the National Union of Teachers during the war.

J Harrison V.C. M.C.

Covering all N.U.T. members who served in the war and also discussing issues of the time, such as pensions, salary levels of teachers who joined the army and fund raising for relief in Europe.

 

The records are a comprehensive list of members of the National Union of Teachers who served in the Great War. The teaching profession and its members responded to the great nationwide pressure to ‘do their bit’, with most male teachers of service age answering the call to arms.

The ‘National Union of Teachers’ had a number of courageous medal recipients amongst its members. Listed here is 2nd Lieutenant Jack Harrison of the East Yorkshire Regiment. He was killed in May 1917 in Oppy Wood, France aged 27. After having earlier won the Military Cross for bravery, he was posthumously awarded a Victoria Cross for single-handedly attacking a German machine gun post to protect his platoon. His body was never found.

He taught at Lime Street Council School in Hull and also played rugby league for Hull FC as a prolific try scorer. He is listed among the ‘Gallant War Dead’ in the records along with the name of his school.

Hull War Dead

 

The records provide an interesting insight into how a specific profession and its union coped with the events of The Great War. Taken from the National Union of Teachers War Records 1914 to 1919 publication, the records can be found in the War Service Lists in the Military Records section on TheGenealogist.

Mark Bayley, Head of Online Content at TheGenealogist comments: “The war affected so many lives, but it can often be hard to trace records for those who survived. This is why TheGenealogist is committed to providing more unique records of those who survived, whether they are casualty lists, prisoners of war, or in this case full service lists for specific professions. We are aiming to continually add more of these specialist records to provide family historians with more unique data at their fingertips.”

Take a look at TheGenealogist.co.uk to search these records.

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Black Sheep in the Family Tree

 

Hangman's noose
Hangman’s noose

Finding a criminal in our past family can embarrass some of us, while others are simply tickled pink to think they are descended from a rogue or two. This is especially true when the criminal ancestors are a few generations back and so not too frighteningly near.

One of the problems, for the family historian, is that any black sheep in our family were probably not too keen on giving their true name when apprehended. So when searching for them on census night they may be frustratingly missing, unless they are locked up by courtesy of His or Her Majesty in one of the crown’s prisons.

Census records for Wormwood Scrubs, Parkhurst, Pentonville, Strangeways and Dartmoor are available in the normal census collections at Ancestry,   Findmypast   and  TheGenealogist.

You may also come across the census records for the county gaol, such as the one in Exeter for the County of Devon.

I was looking this week at some of the online resources for criminal records such as the England and Wales Criminal Registers 1791-1892 at Ancestry.co.uk. These register books include a brief bit of information from the Quarter Session Trials.

I didn’t manage to identify an ancestor but I got drawn into wondering about the story of a person with my surname from my ancestor’s county who in 1834 at the age of 43 was sentenced to be transported for 7 years for larceny.

 

And then there was one Janus Majaval, aged 22 and sentenced to death along with several others at the Devon County Assizes on the 19th July 1845. All the condemned men carried Iberian sounding names and their crime was Murder on the High Seas.

 

Find your ancestors today with a FREE 14 day trial to Ancestry.co.uk – Click here!

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TheGenealogist adds 90,000 Criminal Records to their site

 

Criminal Records

I see that TheGenealogist.co.uk has released a whole batch of records that are great for finding any ancestors of yours who may have fallen foul of the law!

Its a set of 90,000 Criminal records, which cover indictable offences in England and Wales between 1782 and 1892, that they have added to their website  for Diamond members and these records also uniquely cover prisoners ‘pardoned’, criminal charges and those classed as ‘criminal lunatics’.

Coming from  The National Archives the records cover the following:

  • HO27 – Criminal Registers, England and Wales
    Registers of all persons in England and Wales charged with indictable offences showing the results of the trials, the sentences in case of conviction, and dates of execution of persons sentence to death.
  • HO13 – Criminal Entry Books
    Lists of pardons.
  • HO20/13 – Prisons Correspondence and Papers
    Including Bethlehem Hospital criminal lunatics and other asylums.
  • CRIM1 – Central Criminal Court Depositions
    Statements on oath used in evidence in trials at the Old Bailey and pardons if granted.

As TheGenealogist says in its newsletter this month, “the 1800s in England and Wales was a place where it was not difficult to get into trouble and end up facing a severe punishment, perhaps even the death penalty. These new records may help shed light on a family relative who broke the Law and paid the consequences.”

Some of us love to unearth the odd black-sheep in the family. So take a look here and join their Diamond level membership to take advantage of this data:

 

The Genealogist - UK census, BMDs and more online

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