Stoneywell

 

Stoneywell National Trust property.Just back from visiting the National Trust Property of Stoneywell in Leicestershire.

Built as a summer home by Arts and Crafts architect-designer Ernest Gimson for his brother Sydney, Stoneywell zigzags from its rocky outcrop, amid rhododendrons and heather. Every turn conjures childhood memories of holiday excitement, dashing down the winding steps –– one way to the fort, the other to the woods beyond.

The visit to this small National Trust house was a treat for my 90 year old dad, who once-upon-a-time had been an architect himself.

I found it fascinating from the point of view of seeing artefacts from the late Victorian times and up to the 1950s. The way that these everyday household items could spark off memories for both myself, with the more recent ones, and for my dad with the older objects.

It reminded me that seeing a facet of the Gimson’s family history, in the form of this well presented National Trust house, or indeed anybody else’s family life in photos or in a property such as this, can so easily be used to flesh out your own family story. The social influences on our ancestors is just as much a part of of our family story as is the family tree charting names and dates of births, marriages and deaths. By seeing the exhibits in a museum, or the furniture, books, children’s toys or the typewriter on the desk in Stoneywell and matching them to your own forebears, from the period, can help to make the telling of our family history all the more interesting.

Stoneywell pantry Stoneywell typewriter Stoneywell Model Train

 

————————

 Learn more about English and Welsh family history resources which can be used to find your elusive ancestors with the Family History Researcher Course,

CLICK the image below:

Family History Researcher English/Welsh course

Send to Kindle

Using the Address Search on TheGenealogist Website

 

IMGP0852IMGP0853I was looking back at some old photographs from the 1970s this weekend.

They are quite faded colour pictures taken on a Kodak Instamatic camera from the time and I was about 18 and starting my first job as a reservations clerk for a tour operator in Birmingham.

This was the house in which I lived. You can’t see my room in either of the photos from the back garden, neither in the summer snap, nor winter one.

The reason was that my room was right up in the attic and had a skylight that was up high and was somewhere near the chimney on the right. If I got up on a chair I could see a flat piece of roof and if I clambered out of the window I could then see distant high rise flats through Edgbaston’s leafy canopy.

This journey into my past made me stop and think about the house and its history.

Thinking about it now, my room must have been intended for a servant to sleep in, and so it had me wondering if I could find, in the census collection, the names of those who had once occupied this house.

One of the great tools that subscribers to TheGenealogist get is the ability to use their address search on any of the census from 1841 through to 1911. There is also the ability to search for a family in the census, which I have found really useful in the past. This is in addition, of course, to the normal name search of the census that you are probably use to using.

So in this case I made a search of “Carpenter Road in Edgbaston” and soon discovered that it had once been known as Carpenters Lane. I easily located the house and discovered that it was owned in 1841 by a 35 year old Merchant called William Bolton, his 25 year old wife and 6 children and looking after them were three servants, one of which must have occupied what was destined to become my room!

Moving forward through the years I discovered that by 1861 it was occupied by a different family, the head of which was a Solicitor and he managed with just two servants.

As the decennial census came and went the occupiers and their servants changed until in 1891 a 52 year old man with the same Christian name and surname of William Bolton is recorded as the head! Looking back to the 1841 census there is no 2 year old son recorded to the first William Bolton. Is this just a coincidence, or is it a member of the family taking back a house that has been leased out for many years? Perhaps I may look into this one day.

Without knowing about the facility at TheGenealogist to do an address search of the census data I would never have uncovered this intriguing fact.

By the way, all the servants that may have occupied my room were females. I do wonder if any had managed to climb out of the skylight, to stand on that narrow piece of flat roof next to the chimney, as I had? With their long skirts I think not!

TheGenalogist has some easy to use search tools and thousands of records to help the family historian find their ancestors. Click on the image below and get started!

 

 

The Genealogist - UK census, BMDs and more online

 Disclosure: Compensated links used in this post

Send to Kindle

Family history secrets from the Asylum

ITV CaptureLast night’s ITV programme on Secrets from the Asylum was fascinating from a family history point of view.

It showed vividly how emotional a finding that one or other of your ancestors spent some time, or indeed died, behind the doors of an asylum can be.

One of the things that I always advise people, thinking about researching their family tree, is to be aware that they may find skeletons in the cupboard. Also that once the skeleton is out this can cause other members of your family to get upset with you for opening the door into the past. Its particularly difficult if you dispel a carefully constructed family story that has been woven to protect the family from a perceived disgrace.

Another maxim, that I tell people new to family history, is not to judge their family for making up these stories and to try to understand your ancestor in the era in which they lived and in the social context of their times.

Both these “rules” had to be applied when I found a cause of death for a client whose family tree I was researching. Just like Christopher Biggins, one of the celebrities on the show, he to discovered that his ancestor died from “general paralysis of the insane”.

The client’s ancestor was said to have fallen from his horse as a relatively young man. My client had become suspicious of this story, perhaps subconsciously having picked up that the received wisdom was not told convincingly enough. His theory, however, was that his ancestor had perhaps run away from his wife and family. The truth was more of a shock when the certificate was delivered to him by me.

In the programme last night actress Sue Johnston was also featured as she revisited the hospital where she had worked in the 1960’s. Her experience was of wheeling patients down to have Electro Convulsive Therapy (ECT), which was invented in the 1930s to treat schizophrenia but was used on a variety of illnesses by the 1960s. Her memories of the patients getting the treatment were quite distressing for her.

I have found people who had this treatment and went on to live normal lives but for researchers who discover this in their family tree, this can sometimes be upsetting.

So, as long as you are aware that not everything that you may find out about ancestors will be “rosy” then family history research is a compelling pastime that gets better with the more records and resources that you can get to use.

 

If you are just starting out and want to build your knowledge of English/Welsh family history so that you are able to track down elusive ancestors then take a look at my course at Family History Researcher Academy.

For another couple of weeks I am offering my Summer Sale of a month’s trial for free in conjunction with S&N Geneology Supplies! Click the image below.
 
Join Family History Researcher

Send to Kindle

Family History Research finds moved house

Sous L'Eglise Summer holiday time can be a great opportunity to look at the places where your ancestors lived.

Quite often I have used time visiting an area to walk down the streets where my ancestors footsteps went before me and just imagining how it would have been in their day.

I will have often have prepared for such a trip beforehand. In most cases using the census collections and copies of trade directories to”get a feel” for the location in their era.

It is important to try and understand the social history of the town or area where our forebears lived, but what about our own history? Shouldn’t we try and document our times for those who follow?

As we grow older we constantly find that things have moved on, streets have changed, businesses have closed up, buildings demolished.

This week I was reminded of this fact by a visit from several cousins of mine to Jersey. A first cousin, his daughter plus fiancé, flew in from Canada, while a first cousin once removed, plus husband, came from the Midlands by plane. (If you find cousin relationships difficult to understand then check out my free report here.)

My elder cousin from Canada had memories of certain shops, that he had gone to with our grandparents and would have liked to have taken a trip to. The problem was that they had long since gone or changed in the intervening years.

We managed, however, to do many of the sites that had family associations for us; but I was still struck at how change in my own lifetime had crept up on my local environment. From the reclamation of land for a cinema, swimming-pool complex, 5 star hotel and housing apartments, which now replaces the beach where my science teacher had taken the class to learn some hands-on Marine Biology, to the house by the airport where my younger cousin (now based in England) had once lived as a child.

This was to be a great story as the Georgian farmhouse had been demolished, as new regulations deemed it to be too close to the airport runway. In actual fact there had been a dreadful air crash when my cousins lived in it, but she and her mother were thankfully away from the house at the time. In the fog a light aircraft had flown into said building with the loss of the pilot’s life.

Yesterday we took a trip to the site of the demolished house and walked around the footprint of the building. It was an eerie feeling as we picked our way over the old foundations.

I noticed the former garden still had flowers and plant bushes in it that indicted its past life as a formal front garden. These hardy specimens fighting through the weeds and wild foliage that aimed to sometime soon take control.

The happy ending to this piece is that the house was demolished stone-by-stone and it has sprung up again in restored Georgian glory as the cladding to a replica house a few miles down the road! The project is ongoing and the people behind it have a website here:  http://savethelistedbuilding.com/

Yesterday we were privileged to be allowed to visit the house’s new site and my cousin, who had once lived within its granite structure, was delighted with the restoration and the positive ambience of its new location.

 

Think of those who will come after us, what stories can we leave them about our times?

To download my guide to Cousins, Step-mothers and Half-brothers click on this link.

 

Send to Kindle

Lives of the First World War

IWM & brightsolid partner to create digital platform:

Lives of the First World War

Just heard this news from brightsolid…

IWM (Imperial War Museums) and brightsolid, the online publishing and technology arm of publishing group DC Thomson, are working in partnership to create Lives of the First World War – an innovative and interactive digital platform to mark the First World War Centenary.

 

Lives of the First World War will hold the stories of over 8 million men and women who served in uniform and worked on the home front. It will be the official place for communities across the world to connect, explore, reveal and share even more about these people’s lives.

 

This innovative platform will bring fascinating records from museums, libraries, archives and family collections across the globe together in one place. The team behind Lives of the First World War are working with national and international institutions and archives to make this happen.

 

Over the course of the centenary, Lives of the First World War will become the permanent digital memorial to more than 8 million men and women from across Britain and the Commonwealth – a significant digital legacy for future generations.

 

The platform will go live later this year, in time for the start of centenary commemorations from summer 2014. Further information, including a short film about Lives of the First World War can now be found at www.livesofthefirstworldwar.org.

 

Diane Lees, Director-General of IWM said: “The Imperial War Museum was established while the First World War was still being fought to ensure that future generations would understand the causes and consequences of the war and to remember the men and women who played their role.

 

“Now that the First World War is outside living memory, we are the voice of those veterans and the custodians of their stories – which we can now tell through Lives of the First World War. We will be encouraging people of all ages, in all communities to join us in this project to actively remember these men and women.

 

“I am delighted that IWM will be working with brightsolid. Their focus on innovation, their specialism in telling stories and making history accessible along with their international reach makes them our perfect partner on Lives of the First World War.”

 

Chris van der Kuyl, Chief Executive of brightsolid, said: “We are proud to be working with IWM to create a digital memorial that will be an enduring and fitting tribute to the men and women of the First World War. I am sure that as the centenary approaches, members of the public will deepen these stories by uploading their own content in order to create a rich narrative tapestry for every man or woman whose life was shaped by the War.

 

“The UK has an incalculable wealth of historical archives. Institutions like IWM are world leaders in making those records available online to millions of people worldwide. We are only beginning to realise the cultural potential of these archives.”

 

brightsolid’s partnership with IWM consolidates its position as a private sector partner for leading public institutions digitising historical archives. The Group recently launched the British Newspaper Archive in partnership with the British Library, embarking on a project to digitise, and make fully-searchable, up to 40 million historic pages from the national newspaper collection over the next 10 years and has previously delivered the highly successful 1911census.co.uk project in partnership with The National Archives (TNA). In addition, brightsolid is the private sector provider for ScotlandsPeople, a partnership with National Records of Scotland and the Court of the Lord Lyon that serves an integrated online portal for Scottish genealogy records dating back to 1538.

 

Lives of the First World War will be a part of IWM’s extensive programme to mark the First World War Centenary. IWM’s programme includes new First World War Galleries at IWM London (opening summer 2014) and a major temporary exhibition at IWM North. IWM is also leading the First World War Centenary Partnership, a growing network of over 1,000 local, national and international cultural and educational organisations spanning 25 countries. The Centenary Partnership will present a four-year vibrant programme of cultural events and activities engaging millions of people across the world.

Send to Kindle

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.

Send to Kindle

Some New British Family History Data Online

Directories1869 at TheGenealogist.co.ukThis week I’ve been looking at some of the new data that has found its way online at some of the websites that I regularly use.

At Find My Past anyone with ancestors who were captured and became prisoners of war in the first and second world wars may want to take a look at some 170,000 records that have been added to this website recently.

Starting with the First World War, the data is for 7,700 British Army officers who between 1914 and 1918 were PoWs and comes from the records of a bank! It would seem that a missing cheque could very often be the first indication that an officer had been captured and so Messrs Cox & Co recorded the information at that time about their clients.

Data that you may be able to obtain from this list includes name, rank, service, section, date that the officer went missing and the date that they were repatriated or date of death in captivity.

For the Second World War the collection is of 107,000 records of Army personnel held by the Germans. These records will usually give you the name, rank, regiment, army number, camp number, PoW number, together with the type and location of the camp.

Over at TheGenealogist nearly half a million more parish records have been added to the site for subscribers of their Diamond package. Included are more than 130,000 records for Worcestershire, 100,000 for Cornwall, 81,000 for Northumberland plus many more for other counties.

The same website has boosted their trade directories, a data set I always enjoy using to find tradesmen listed or the address of their gentry clients. To be noted are the East India Company Register and Directory for 1820 and 1834.

If you are reading this before the end of September 2012 then TheGenealogist are still offering £50 off their Diamond subscription package as a celebration of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. To obtain this sizeable discount all you need to do is use the code SUMMERSAVER when signing up to the site!

The websites that I often use myself are Find My Past and The Genealogist.co.uk. To take your family history further I certainly recommend that you to consider a subscription to these websites. Take a look now and see what great data sets they have to offer including those I have highlighted above:

 

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 Findmypast.co.uk or The Genealogist.co.uk should you sign up for their subscriptions.

 

Send to Kindle

Post Office Directories for Scotland

I’ve just spent an enjoyable hour or so browsing on-line the Post Office Directories for Scotland back in the 1820s!

As some of you, that have been reading my blog for a while, may recall I have a line in my family tree that is from East Lothian in Scotland. One of my ancestors, a Charles Hay, moved to the Scottish capital city from Dunbar, where he had been a merchant and later the Provost.

In his will, which I downloaded from the Scotlandspeople.gov.uk website, he lived until his death in Great King Street, Edinburgh and became a merchant in that city. So it was interesting to me to find that The National Library of Scotland has made available on line 287 historic Scottish Post Office Directories with the promise of many more to come.

The books cover most of Scotland  from 1774 until 1911 with particular emphasis on Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh and Glasgow.

The project is ongoing, with an expected completion in the summer of 2011 when over 600 directories will be available for us to browse.

The books, being made available with the co-operation of Scottish libraries, are being scanned in conjunction with the Internet Archive (www.archive.org) and you can search the books on-line or even download a pdf from the National Library of Scotland website:

http://www.nls.uk/family-history/directories/post-office

Scottish Trade Directories are now on-line
Scottish Trade Directories are now on-line
Send to Kindle