Christmas is the time of year when we put the trials of daily life behind us to spend time with our family. The past traditions of gathering around the piano or reading stories and poems have moved onto the modern tradition of gathering around the television, with Austen's period dramas often a family favourite. It's not hard to see where Jane Austin found her inspiration for her novels, with a life of heartbreak, tragedy and financial hardship but with strong family ties till the end.
Christmas typically brings to mind a period of festivities, indulgence, family gatherings and generosity, but it hasn't always been. The Puritan authorities of the Seventeenth Century repressed many Christmas traditions due to their pagan origins, and Christmas remained largely a Church based celebration through the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. The writer Charles Dickens contributed greatly to the Victorian re-construction of Christmas with his novel 'A Christmas Carol', which historians have said redefined the spirit and importance of Christmas.
With Halloween upon us, we are shifting our focus from skeletons in the ancestral closet to monsters and ghouls. Frankenstein's monster is a popular choice for Halloween costumes, and the story originates around a log fire by Lake Geneva, on a rainy night in 1816, as a group of friends were telling each other German ghost stories.
Alan is a well known writer, producer, director and actor with roles in X2: X-Men United and the Spy Kids trilogy and was awarded an OBE for his services to the arts, theatre & film and activism for LGBT rights. The show will follow Alan's maternal grandfather T Darling who served during WW2 and Malayan Emergency. Will his journey to Malaysia unravel the mystery surrounding his grandfathers death aged just 35?
Arthur Wesley joined the army in 1787, and proposed to Catherine Sarah Dorothea Pakenham in 1793. His marriage proposal was rejected by the Pakenham family who felt that his prospects were poor. Arthur then threw himself into his military career fighting against the French in Flanders, and joined his brother Richard in India in 1796...
This week's episode of Who Do You Think You Are will follow Dervla Kirwan, the Irish Actress best known for her appearances in Ballykissangel and Goodnight Sweetheart. Her great grandmother Margaret Collins-O'Driscoll was the sister of Irish revolutionary leader Michael Collins. Michael was MP for Cork South & Director of Intelligence for the IRA and later President of the IRB...
We are now into week 4 of the BBC series of 'Who Do You Think You Are?' and will be following the story of Monty Don. Monty is best known for presenting 'Gardeners World' on the BBC and was brought up in a small Hampshire village in a house designed by his maternal great grandfather Matthew Wyatt. Through his mother Janet, Monty is descended from the well know Wyatt dynasty of Architects, which spans across the 18th and 19th centuries....
Two weeks ago we discovered Dervla's story and this week the focus is on her husband Rupert's ancestry, which includes visits to Italy and India. It seems there could be truth in the family belief of 'Indian Blood in the family' as Rupert's mother was born in Karachi, India in 1939 to Bill (William Herbert Alfred) Thorne and his wife Sylvia...
Alexander Henry Fenwick Armstrong was born in Rothbury, Northumberland in 1970 to Dr Henry Angus Armstrong and Emma Thompson-McCausland. On his mother's side, Alexander is descended from one of the wealthiest families in Britain. The Irish McCausland family has aristocratic roots and is well documented in historical records...
The 7th Episode of this years Who Do You Think You Are follows Jason Donovan's Australian and English roots. Jason discovered that the show business line goes much deeper on his maternal side with his great grandmother, Eileen Dawson, who started her showbiz career aged 17 and made appearances at the Sydney Opera House. Eileen's grandfather (Jason's 3x Great grandfather), Joseph Lyons was born in London and married to Rosetta. On 23/08/1841 Joseph was found guilty for 'receiving stolen goods' and sent to Australia for 10 years.
Hugh was born on the 22nd December 1954 in Accra, Ghana, and emigrated to England with his family when he was 3 years old. They departed from Lagos, Nigeria on board the 'Aureol', part of the Elder Dempster Lines Ltd fleet, which was 537ft long and could carry 253 First class passengers, 76 Cabin class and 145 crew. His search into his ancestry uncovers a distinguished European line and also a chieftaincy in Ghana...
The latest celebrity to feature on the on the BBC series Who Do You Think You Are? is British actor Rupert Everett. His family tree shows a broad heritage with ancestors in the south and north of England, Wales and Scotland.
Who Do You Think You Are? kicks off series 7 with family favourite Bruce Forsyth. Brucie was born in Edmonton North London in 1928, to John Thomas Forsyth Johnson and Florence Ada Pocknell. Bruce's 4x great grandfather William Forsyth was famously a co-founder of the Royal Horticultural Society and the Forsythia plant was named in his honour.
Marks & Spencer is one of the largest clothing retailers in the UK and in 2008 was recorded as the 43rd largest retailer in the world with 895 stores worldwide. The company is a long standing British heritage with its roots firmly in Yorkshire.
Although the Scottish tennis ace Andy Murray has made comments on supporting “anyone but England” his maternal grandmother Eileen Shirley Edney was born to English parents John Marsom Edney and Joyce Mary Anderson.
TheGenealogist.co.uk now has marriage transcripts for England and Wales from 1948 to 1983, containing a total of 28 million records. Amongst these are many famous film stars and celebrities from the 1950's and 1960's who became as famous for their private lives and multiple marriages as their careers, such as 19 year old Elizabeth Taylor, married to her first husband Michael Wilding in 1952 and Diana Dors, who married her first husband Dennis Gittins in 1951 only 5 weeks after they had first met.
Christmas and Easter wouldn't be the same without Cadburys. The company is known worldwide for its chocolate and although they have recently been purchased by American giant Kraft, Cadbury's will still remain a great British tradition. The history of the company dates back nearly 200 years ago with John Cadbury and his brother Benjamin and continued to be a family business until recently.
It would seem a simple matter to then find John William's birth or baptism in Yorkshire, but for years, despite multiple attempts, I met with not the slightest degree of success. Then, when I was tracing a different family line, I did a chance search in the non-conformist records for John William Baker, as I believed the family were Methodists. Success! There he was, but in the Quaker records rather than the Methodist ones!
As we enter a New Year and decade, many of us have been thinking of New Years resolutions, of new projects and new beginnings. 350 years ago Samuel Pepys was also thinking the same thing and began writing a diary on 1st January 1660. He continued writing his diary on a daily basis for almost ten years, and this diary is now one of the most important documents of the period.
Every year the popular BBC series Who Do You Think You Are? brings us a host of new and exciting stories. We have taken a look at each celebrity as they journey into their family history, and you can read about their discoveries in our articles.
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