New Book: In Search of Our Ancient Ancestors

I was very pleased to hear from Anthony Adolph this week, about his new book In Search of Our Ancient Ancestors: from the Big Bang to Modern Britain, in Science and Myth especially as I had just been reading all about it in Your Family Tree Magazine and was intrigued as the magazine review called it ‘unusual and fascinating’.

In Search of our Ancient Ancestors

 

The following is written by the author:

I am delighted to announce the publication of my new book In Search of Our Ancient Ancestors: from the Big Bang to Modern Britain, in Science and Myth, which is being published by Pen and Sword this month.

According to science, life first appeared on Earth about 3,500 million years ago. Every living thing is descended from that first spark, including all of us. But if we trace a direct line down from those original life-forms to ourselves, what do we find? What is the full story of our family tree over the past 3,500 million years, and how are we able to trace ourselves so far back?

From single celled organisms to sea-dwelling vertebrates; amphibians to reptiles; tiny mammals to primitive man; the first Homo sapiens to the cave-painters of Ice Age Europe and the first farmers down to the Norman Conquest, this book charts not only the extraordinary story of our ancient ancestors but also our 40,000 year-long quest to discover our roots, from ancient origin myths of world-shaping mammoths and great floods down to the scientific discovery of our descent from the Genetic Adam and the Mitochondrial Eve. 

In Search of Our Ancient Ancestors will tell you where you come from, before the earliest generations of your family tree that you can trace using records. It also saves you having to think any harder about what to buy for your family and friends this Christmas!

I do hope you will enjoy it.  Anthony Adolph.

 

Anthony Adolph’s book is available from the publishers, Pen & Sword books, and all good booksellers.

Click here to buy now:

In Search of Our Ancient Ancestors

In Search of our Ancient Ancestors

 

 

 

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Channel Islands ancestors lecture at SoG

Channel IslandsWhile reading the latest news from the Society of Genealogist I came across an announcement for a half day course being held at the society’s head quarters in London called:

“My Ancestors Came from the Channel Islands”

It had previously been scheduled for the end of the month and has now been brought forward to 24/10/2015 10:30 – 13:00 – So anyone who hasn’t realised this yet and who intended to go then make a note in your diary that this course has been moved from its original date of 31 October.

If you have forbears form this part of the world and want to learn more about how to research them then as I write this they still have some space.

Check out the Society of Genealogists’ website:

http://www.sog.org.uk/books-courses

Here is what they say about this half day course:

On which of the Channel Islands did your ancestors originate?

Are your cousins still there?

This half-day course will cover sources of genealogical and historical sources of information about Jersey, Guernsey, Alderney and Sark. The course will include data that can be accessed in the Society of Genealogists library, online and on the islands in archives, libraries, registries and museums. Relevant contact details of historical and family history organisations will be provided.

with Dr Colin Chapman.

 

Society of Genealogists

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Books on Channel Island Ancestors

Tracing Your Channel Island Ancestors Pen & Sword books have the following editions of Marie-Louise Backhurst’s comprehensive book on Tracing Your Channel Island Ancestors for sale. Check out the different editions with these links:

 Paperback     £12.99

 Kindle edition £4.99

 ePub edition   £4.99

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Find Your Naval Ancestors

Portsmouth Royal Navy dockyard

Having very recently visited the Historic Dockyard at Portsmouth my interest in my seafaring ancestors has been revived.

As an island nation I am sure that many of the readers of this blog will have ancestors that have gone to sea, if only for a short time. Many of us will have family who have served in the Royal Navy and so have discovered just how intimidating it is to research a Royal Naval ancestor, especially if we compare it to looking for those of our kin who were in the British Army or the Royal Air Force.

Tracing Your Naval Ancestors – A Guide for Family Historians by Simon Fowler gives the reader a clear guide on how to use and, importantly, how to access the Naval records which are scattered among numerous repositories around the British Isles with the majority housed at The National Archives in Kew.

The book begins by giving the reader a short introduction on how to get started in their research. Simon Fowler assumes the reader has little prior knowledge of the navy and its history. His book shows you how to trace an officer, petty officer or rating from the seventeenth century up to the 1960s using records at the National Archives and elsewhere.

The reader will discover that the records of RN officers and ratings can be located back to 1660, often with more success than if you were looking for similar records in the army. As holdings for officers and ratings up to 1914 are different Simon Fowler has separated the two into their own chapters. A separate chapter then addresses the records from 1914 which covers all ranks.

There are additional chapters for the various auxiliary services; the coastguard; the Royal Marines; the WRNS; HM Dockyards; the sick and wounded and researching ships.

Depending on the era in question there are many naval records that the reader can use to discover more about the Royal Navy and its personnel. This well illustrated book shows the reader where to find the records, explains well what they contain and is an excellent addition to anyone’s library if they are interested in Royal Naval ancestors.

Tracing Your Naval Ancestors Paperback Editions available to buy from the following links:

Paperback £12.99

 

Kindle edition £ 4.99

 

ePub edition £ 4.99

 

 

Buy Tracing Your Naval Ancestors

and many other great family history books now from Pen & Sword.

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Aristos and Family history

Siberechts-Longleat HouseHave you caught the TV series about Longleat House and the Thynn family on the BBC? Its called All Change at Longleat and had me gripped as we witnessed the tensions that revolve around the eccentric Marquess of Bath and his son and daughter-in-law who have taken over the running of the house and estate.

Lord Bath, we discover, has handed over the control of the £190 million estate to his son, Ceawlin, but the handover isn’t going smoothly. Ceawlin, whose title is Lord Weymouth but only uses this on formal occasions, prefers to be known by his first name. With such an uncommon name as this I am sure that he is never mistaken for one of the members of the lower echelons of society.

In the first programme in the series we find out that Ceawlin has upset his father by removing some of the murals painted by the latter in the apartments where they had all lived once lived and the pair are no longer on speaking terms. In the village on the estate, there’s further unrest after Ceawlin puts up the villagers’ rents.

Meanwhile, Ceawlin’s glamorous wife Emma is settling into life at Longleat as Lady Weymouth.

In the safari park, the animal keepers wonder how Ceawlin will compare to his father. Lord Bath is still a flamboyant, controversial figure and the village fair allows the viewer to witness the awkwardness of  a meeting between the son and his father. Although now in retirement, the Marquess continues to enjoy a famously open marriage. Various ‘wifelets’ still visit when his wife is away.

46 Longleat house (70)

For me the most telling part was when Ceawlin was asked whether his childhood was a happy one, growing up at Longleat. There was quite a pause as he considered what his answer should be, then he tellingly said “Happy bits and not so happy bits.” Another pause and “it was what it was.”

He admitted that as a child he would definitely have preferred to have lived in a cottage in the village like most of his friends did. We heard how, in his teenage years, members of the public traipsed not just through the main house but also through the private apartment where he lived.

For those of us from a less privileged background, who may have occasionally dreamed of life in the upper classes, then this insight into one such family may make us realise that the grass is definitely never greener on the the other side of the hill.

 

Many more of us than we think may be descended from aristocratic ancestors. Be it from junior lines that have fallen away from the main family, to those who are fruits of liaisons between an aristocrat and another.

If you want to explore this fascinating part of family history research then Pen and Sword books have published Anthony Adolph’s book: Tracing Your Aristocratic Ancestors.

Tracing Your Aristocratic AncestorsClick this link to read more:

http://www.pen-and-sword.co.uk/Tracing-Your-Aristocratic-Ancestors/p/3827?aid=1101

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May the 9th, Liberation Day in Jersey

Raising of the Union Flag Liberation Day 2015Its May the 9th and here in the Channel Island of Jersey it is the 70th anniversary of the Liberation of this island from the Nazi occupation.

As a child, in 1960s Jersey, I grew up understanding the importance of the day to many of the people around me who had lived through the German Occupation.

As I have grown older, so many of these people have sadly passed away. I felt, this morning, that it was important for me to go to what is now named Liberation Square, but was then known simply as the Weighbridge and to stand witness for all those that I have known who lived through the five years under the swastika.

At the re-enactment of the first raising of the British flag on the Pomme d’Or hotel, I found the commemoration very moving especially as covering the scaffolding on the next door building site is a blown up image of the actual raising of the Union Flag on the hotel that had served as German Naval Headquarters.
HRH The Countess of Wessex at the 70th commemoration of the Liberation of Jersey

This afternoon has seen a visit from H.R.H The Countess of Wessex and a sitting of the States of Jersey (the legislature for the Bailiwick) in her presence. It was held in the open air in People’s Park the setting for the first anniversary of the Liberation. But the most moving part was a bit of theatre where some of the island’s youth told the story of the occupation, relating stories about real people who lived through this era.

It is this social history that is so important to family history and so it is appropriate that I conclude this weeks post by mentioning  the unique pictorial records of over 30,000 people who lived in the island during the war.

Family history researchers searching for family who lived in Jersey during the WW2 German occupation can now download their registration card, which includes a photograph of their ancestor, in this fantastic recently made available online resource from Jersey Heritage.

Jersey Archive Occupation ID cards

The collection, which has been recognised by UNESCO for its importance and has now been digitised and added to the Jersey Heritage website by Jersey Archive, gives access to 90,000 images that can be searched for free at the link below:

http://catalogue.jerseyheritage.org/features/german-occupation-registration-cards/

It is free to search, although there is a fee of £5 to download a card. Researchers with Jersey family may wish to take out an annual subscription for £30 to make the most of other resources, including thousands of historic photographs, many with named individuals.

 

To discover more about your Channel Island Ancestors read this in-depth book by Marie-Louise Backhurst: Tracing Your Channel Island Ancestors published by Pen & Sword

http://www.pen-and-sword.co.uk/Tracing-Your-Channel-Islands-Ancestors-Paperback/p/3098?aid=1101

"Tracing Your Channel Island Ancestors" Book
Tracing Your Channel Islands Ancestors
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Professional Genealogist, Anthony Adolph’s Tips for Family History Researchers

 

I caught up with Anthony Adolph, the professional genealogist and author on the Genes Reunited stand.

I asked him if he would give us a few tips for family historians.

  

Anthony has written the lesson on Aristocratic ancestors for my Family History Researcher course (click the banner ad to the right if you want to join) and his book Tracing Your Aristocratic Ancestors  is available from Pen & Sword online.

Tracing Your Aristocratic Ancestors
Tracing Your Aristocratic Ancestors by Anthony Adolph.

 

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Don’t neglect those Death Records in you Family Tree research

Here is the very knowledgeable Celia Heritage from Heritage Family History giving me an interview at Who Do You Think You Are? Live 2014.

I asked her about the often over looked Death Records as I knew she had written a very readable book on the subject: Tracing Your Ancestors Through Death Records.

Tracing Your Ancestors Through Death Records

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Famil Tree DNA Tests

 

FDA_microbiologist_prepares_DNA_samples_for_gel_electrophoresis_analysisNot so long ago we just never heard of DNA being used in everyday situations. And then suddenly every detective story on TV seemed to mention the suspect’s DNA being collected from the crime scene.

In the world of family history, DNA has also emerged into the main stream. Today if you want to prove that you are descended from a certain line then you may be able to use genetics to prove it.

But then there is the shorthand that is used that can confuse us a little. You may have heard people talking about “snips” or SNPs and STRs and wondered what this has to do with anything!

I will now attempt to explain what I myself was uncertain of until I attended one of the talks by an academic at last year’s Who Do You Think You Are? Live show and then found it explained again in chapter 12 of Anthony Adolph’s book Tracing Your Aristocratic Ancestors. Pen and Sword 2013

Chromosomes are made up of special proteins and DNA. DNA is composed of numerous base-pairs of nucleotides all arranged in a double-helix shape.

In every human cell there is a nucleus that contains twenty-two pairs of chromosomes that bear autosomal DNA and one pair that decides on the gender of the human. The two sets of chromosomes are reduced down to one in a process of myosis that produces eggs in females and sperm in males.

When a man and a woman have a child the male passes on the one set of his chromosomes and mixes with the female’s one set and so the next generation inherits from its parents.

It is a complex process that causes some slight changes or mutations which are known as genetic polymorphisms. Some of these mutations include single nucleotide polymorphisms which are often abbreviated to the letters SNPs.

A single tandem repeat is known as a STR.

SNPs and STRs do not, it is believed by the scientists who understand such things, carry any useful codes needed in the creation of ourselves, but they are there.

 

Individual genes have two or more possible states of being and these are usually referred to by the letters A or T and C or G.

An SNP is a change detected in a gene’s state of being from, say, A to G and you may see it being called a “unique event polymorphism”. Once a SNP has occurred it will now stay the same as it is passed down the generations and so you can see how this can act as a reliable marker for “deep ancestry” haplogroup testing.

 

So what about STRs?

 

They are a bit different. STRs occur in a different part of the chromosome and they are a series of multiple changes caused by the addition or subtraction of the number of base-pairs. So by counting these base-pairs the DNA company get to a numerical code. The great thing about these mutations is that they occur over a shorter time than the SNPs do and so they can change over shorter spans of generations.

 

Y-STRs are taken specifically from the male Y chromosome and are only passed down by the father, making the Y chromosome in any paternal line practically identical.

What we are presented with is two complementary sets of results: SNPs define a person’s haplogroup, or the group of people that share the same markers that can go back many thousand of years. The second is the smaller group of people that share the same STRs who are related to each other over the last couple of thousand years or less.

 

The second exception is mitochondrial DNA (mt-DNA). This is only passed down from a mother to her child, but which only her daughters will pass on. This means that we have a definite marker for the female-line, in other words the mother’s mother’s mother’s (and so on) family.

As we get closer to Christmas I have noticed that www.familytreedna.com are offering money off their packages for the holiday season. Do you know anyone who would like to have a present of a DNA test as it would seem to be a good time to buy?

Disclosure: Links are compensated affiliate links.

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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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We All Have Aristocratic Ancestors Says Genealogist and Author!

Tracing Your Aristocratic Ancestors
Anthony Adolph signing his new book: Tracing Your Aristocratic Ancestors, at the Who do You Think You Are? LIVE show.

Tracing Your Aristocratic Ancestors

 

 

At the Who Do You Think You Are? LIVE show, on the Pen & Sword stand, I was able to catch up with genealogist and author Anthony Adolph as he signed copies of his new book: Tracing Your Aristocratic Ancestors.

He graciously allowed me an interview afterwards and, as always, you can just tell the passion that he holds for his subject.

Watch my short video below and hear his argument that we all have aristocratic ancestors!

That being the case then, this book should appeal to every family historian.

To buy your copy now go to:
Tracing Your Aristocratic Ancestors: A Guide for Family Historians

Disclosure: This is a compensated affiliate link which may reward me should you purchase.

Tracing Your Aristocratic Ancestors
Tracing Your Aristocratic Ancestors
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