3 Weeks until Who Do You Think You Are? Live

 

Who Do you Think You Are? LIVE 2011
Who Do you Think You Are? LIVE

Its only three weeks to go before many of us descend on the NEC in Birmingham for the Who Do You Think You Are? Live show.

One of the most interesting parts of this event are the number of fascinating talks given both on the stands and in the various Society of Genealogist workshops around the hall. They can open up your mind to new places to look for your ancestors or give you tips and tricks to use that you hadn’t considered before.

The Society of Genealogists will be running an extensive programme of workshops by leading genealogists over the course of the three day show. You can choose from a vast number of subjects, for instance: different research techniques, how to record your findings and using parish registers.

Taking place in four theatres (SOG Studios 1, 2, 3 and 4), sessions last for approximately 45 minutes with a fifteen minute break in between. All workshops are free to attend* and subject to capacity – for this reason, you are able to pre-book a seat at your preferred workshops for just £2 when booking your tickets to the show.

Click here to see the full workshop timetable.

Don’t forget the Keynote Workshop** will talk place every day at 1.15pm – 2.30pm in SOG Studio 1.

Heading over to TheGenealogist’s talks stand, that on the plan is near the entrance of the hall, I am looking forward to the Tracing Military Ancestors with Chris Baker, Military Expert & Author, Breaking Down Brick Walls with Mark Baley, Online Expert and Celia Heritage talking about our Ancestor’s Working Lives.

Are you going?

 

The Genealogist - UK census, BMDs and more online

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My Ancestor was a Tide Waiter!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

or

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

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

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


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

 

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Rate Books for Family History Research

Ancestors in Thorne Family treeFollowing on from the last article here I got a comment posted by James McLaren of the Channel Island Family History Society regarding using Rate books both in his specialist area of Jersey family history research and also for London by using the Land Tax assessments and the Electoral Registers on Ancestry.co.uk.

As my interest was piqued I have done a bit more research on the subject and share some of my findings here.

A rate book is a document that was used to record the payment of property taxes that was applied to both residential and business properties in the U.K. until its replacement with the council tax during the 1990s.

As a resident of Jersey I am well aware that, in our island, Rates are still levied by our civil Parish administration along with a recent addition of an island wide rate collected at the same time. Some part of that rate pays for the upkeep of roads, lighting, bins emptied while a small part of it is still used to upkeep the ancient Parish Church in each of the twelve parishes of Jersey.

I was, therefore, interested to find that rates in England and Wales were originally a levy for the parish church that, by the time of Henry VIII’s Reformation, were also being used for non ecclesiastical purposes such as repairs to bridges and local goals. Many rates collections were to support the Poor Law to maintain the workhouses and provide money for the elderly or incapacitated parishioners.

The theory of rates was that a property would be assessed at what its annual rental value was and each year I am intrigued to see what my house in St.Helier has been deemed to be worth in rent – if I didn’t need to live in it, that is!

Returning to my look at rates collected in bygone England and Wales, some householders will no doubt have objected to the level of assessment of their property. Appeals were then heard by the Justices of the Peace.

The collection, of these land taxes, would have been the responsibility of the parish constable, until the establishment of professional police forces when a full or part-time rate collector would have done the job. It was up to the constable to record the payments, and any arrears, in rate books which were then perused by the parish officials.

My investigation revealed that the earliest rate books stretch back as far as the 16th century, but you would be very lucky to find one from then. Most seem to begin in 1744, which was the year when ratepayers were given the right in law to inspect the rate records. Needless to say not all will have survived the passing of time and so gaps will occur.

So where does one look for rate books? The answer is in the County or City Record Offices and also at local history studies libraries.

The websites that I use the most at the moment are Find My Past and The Genealogist.co.uk. To Take your family history further I recommend that you too consider a subscription to these websites. Take a look now and see what great data sets they have to offer:

 

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.

 

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Secrets to Avoid Barking Up the Wrong Family Tree

Anyone who does research will testify to how frustrating it is to follow leads up blind alleys. In terms of genealogy, this could mean following wrong family lines. Anyone who has had a go at genealogy will undoubtedly be familiar with this scenario. It could be that you have been given a bad lead or perhaps misread some information that you have found. Either way, it mounts up to a lot of wasted time.

So how can this pitfall be avoided? Far from giving you a clever answer, I don’t believe that there are any, there are some general tips that I can give that might help you with your genealogy research. In fact the general principles could be applied to any type of research.

The first thing you should always do is keep a track of all of your resources, every book, every article and every web site. And get detailed information too. If your source was a book for example, get all the detail down to the ISBN number. If your research is by word of mouth, write down names, times and dates. Genealogy is all about information, so backing up your facts is critical.

Following a similar theme, you need to organise yourself and your research. File everything and file things where you know how to locate them. You will find yourself back tracking continuously, so make that side of genealogy as painless as possible.

Check your facts. Not just the literal snippets of information that you pick up, but also the logical order of things. Do the facts that you have collected make sense? Apply common sense to all of your findings and question them.

Do not accept carte blanche research from sources you don’t know. What I mean by this is really the types of research that one often sees advertised, offering to write up your family tree for a fee. Beware of these types of offers. The type of research upon which these tress are founded are often questionable. Save your money and do the research yourself. That is after all, part of the fun of genealogy!

If your family has spread it’s wings across borders, be very careful when collecting facts. As one example, dates can be written differently depending on where in the world you are at the time. Easy mistakes can be made under these circumstances. The date 05/04/75 means something different to people in the USA than it does to people in the UK.

Do not make assumptions about any piece of information that you might come across. Stick with the facts that you yourself have collected. One small assumption can lead you in all sorts of directions that you didn’t really want to go down. Remember that we refer to things differently now than we did in years gone by, so when something is taken from letters 100 years ago, it might not mean the same thing to you as it did to your forefathers.

Join up with web sites that have expertise in genealogy. Talk with like minded people and get the benefit of their experience. Not only will they have tips of their own to share to help you, they will have access to sources you might never have thought of. It is well worth your time talking to other genealogists.


Get an extensive look at one of the most remarkable Genealogy Reference Books there is available on the market today. Discover what going on in genealogy today!

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Your Family Tree Magazine is a favourite of mine

Disclosure: Compensated Affiliate.
Your Family Tree is considered, by many family historians, to be one of the most respected genealogy magazines around. I love the way that they not only feature articles on the various traditional means of researching our family trees but also give advice on using personal computers or Apple Macs to do ancestor research. Their aim is “to make tracing family history accessible and rewarding for everyone” according to their website. Your Family Tree offers practical advice, written by experts, on all areas of family history research and is known as Your Family History outside of the UK. The content, however, is the same in both magazines so don’t feel you will lose out if you are based abroad. The Editor, Russell James, is quoted as saying this: “Each issue covers an array of old documents, answers readers questions, and puts family historians in touch with one another. You’ll also receive a covermounted CD-ROM for Mac and PC containing an array of genealogy resources, as well as a pull-out region research card (contacts, map, plus key local resources and historical facts) and four collectable surname index cards every issue.” I personally can’t wait each month for my copy to arrive. I used to buy it from the newsstand until I realised the convienince and the special price that is offered when taking out a subscription. Take a look at whats on offer by clicking one of the banners on this page and you will be able to try before you buy by looking inside a magazine. Recently I’ve enjoyed reading articles such as these below. Want to join me? 100 vital websites – Bumper online special How To guides including: Research Scottish clans, find old maps online, date wedding photos and organise your records Pass down your family’s story – Make sure your findings are never forgotten Migration records – Discover the best websites to help you trace your ancestors’ movement Royal Mail workers – The stories of your postal ancestors Now I know this looks like I am simply acting as a salesman for them; but I really do read this magazine and I have personally got a lot out of my subscription and so I do not apologise for recommending them! A good genealogist never stops learning. We are all somewhere between Beginner and Advanced Beginner! Disclosure: Compensated Affiliate.

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Skeletons in the Cupboard.

Have you found any skeletons in the cupboard?

If perhaps, like myself, you’ve been doing your family tree research for any length of time then no doubt you’ll have discovered that a number of your own forefathers weren’t quite as you envisioned. The problem occurs in the event that the skeleton, which our forbears have managed to shut away inside the proverbial cupboard, comes tumbling out due to your time and efforts to research your family history. In my own case an ancestor proved to have had a previous wife and children that not one of my relatives knew about. It might appear that this individual conveniently did not seem to remember about his former family when he married into our line! The result of uncovering these facts were that some of my kin were very annoyed with me. They believed that my submitting to them my findings somehow besmirched the fine name of the subsequent wife and our ancestor, whose religious upbringing and moral teaching rejected the concept of any divorce.

It might appear from fresh academic research, carried out at the University of Warwick, that I am one of many. It was while reading on the Reuters internet site that I found the following: “A recent study revealed that people researching their family history often open a Pandora’s Box of secrets that can unsettle and offend relatives, sometimes permanently damaging relations.”

Sociology Professor Anne-Marie Kramer revealed to the British Sociological Association’s yearly conference in Glasgow that in her study, conducted amongst 224 individuals who gave her details of their family history research, around thirty of these mentioned conflict.

In the report, published on Reuters’ website, Kramer noted that the considerable factors behind conflict had been when unwelcome information was uncovered, requesting information from relatives who would prefer not to give it, relatives supplying inaccurate information, expending more time on researching family history rather than with loved ones, and coming into contact with hostile relations.

The Professor explained how men and women in Great Britain, Canada, Australia and the United States were being able to view numerous examples of historical data today caused by the amazing growth in the family history and heritage community both on-line and off.

“But in investigating their family history, researchers could open up a Pandora’s Box of secrets and skeletons, such as finding there are family issues around paternity, illegitimacy or marriage close to birth of children, criminality, health and mental health and previously unknown humble origins,” Kramer said in a statement on Warwick University’s website.

Perhaps we should all bear in mind the need to exercise just a little awareness and diplomacy whenever we set out to interact with our extended family about our genealogical studies. Family historians, endeavouring to research their particular family tree, ought to bear in mind this word of caution that not each and every one will welcome you finding out the truth. Health Warning: Family history research can damage your relationships with your relatives, if you are not careful!

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