Sometimes a look down the column marked Quality, Trade or Profession on a page from the baptisms in a church register is a fascinating exercise to do. The variety of occupations that is revealed for the fathers of children baptised in a certain time period in a particular parish can be telling especially if it is a parish in which the high and mighty live alongside more ordinary people. The church is there to take care of baptising, marrying or burying its flock whether they be Royalty or the more humble citizens in its parish. Parish Registers make no distinction of rank and will list the individual to whom they are performing the religious ceremony in chronological order without favour as to who their family are.
"Who Do You Think You Are? is back with another line-up of Britain's best-loved celebrities exploring their family histories across the UK, Ireland, Denmark and Jamaica. The incredible personal stories they unearth of their ancestors' lives - from royal love triangles to labourers fighting for their rights, from Victorian child sweeps to battling fascists in London's East end – reflect and illuminate all our collective history." - Collette Flight, Executive Producer
To many of us, a mention of Ealing will automatically trigger happy memories of watching the quintessential British films that came out of the studios in this west London borough. Even today it is still producing films and has become the oldest continuously working studio facility for film production in the world.
Land’s End, one of the most famous iconic landmarks of the British Isles, was once just an exposed point farmed by hardy Cornishmen. The desire by tourists to visit this most south-westerly point in mainland Britain would have been an excellent opportunity for the landowners to make an extra income over and above what the cliff and furzeland could produce especially when the railways began to bring visitors in increasing numbers to the peninsula.
If you were to ask most family historians which type of records rank the highest when tracing ancestors, Parish Records would be near, if not at the top of their list. These often ancient documents can take a family tree back hundreds of years. With the introduction of Civil Registration in England and Wales only beginning in 1837, before that these types of church records were the only official documentation of the population's vital events made by the authorities. As it was clergy who were responsible for recording the information in the registers of their parish churches and in some non-conformist places of worship, it is not surprising that the events reflected the minister's concern with the religious ceremonies of baptisms, burials and marriages rather than dates of births and deaths.
Today, as the ups and downs of the Euros begin to fade and England captain Harry Kane can get back to being the captain of Tottenham Hotspur, we look at the very first person to hold that privilege when this North London club was nothing more than a schoolboy eleven. Robert "Bobby" Buckle was just a winger aged 13 years old when he became team captain, but he would remain central to the club as it grew, serving as Secretary and Treasurer and then a Director when it became a Limited company in 1898.
The publisher Alexander Thom was born in Scotland around 1801 as the son of the writer and journalist Walter Thom. Alexander went to the High School in Edinburgh before, at the age of 21, he crossed the water to Ireland and in Dublin he then assisted his father in the management of the Dublin Journal.
Scots are renowned as engineers across the world. Dotted around the coast of their home in the northern part of Britain can be found some wonderful examples of Scottish engineering prowess in the shape of its many lighthouses. It is truly remarkable that one particular family, the Stevensons, were responsible for the design and building of so many of these essential coastal warning beacons for shipping.
Wouldn't it be great to be able to see where our ancestors lived through their own eyes? The world inevitably moves on and places have changed over the years. In many areas of the country we can, however, use a combination of records, photographs and maps to build a picture of what the streets around our ancestors' homes looked like. Old photographs or drawings give us a better feel for how a place may have appeared in past times.
It was seventy-eight years ago this week on the 16th May 1943 that the legendary bouncing bombs of Operation Chastise were released against the Ruhr dams in Germany by a newly formed No 617 Squadron of the R.A.F. In charge was a young pilot named Guy Gibson – a hugely experienced bomber pilot despite his age of just 24.
It is always satisfying in family history when a record set provides the researcher with answers. This is even more rewarding when it is in an area that is well known for the difficulty caused by the loss of many crucial records which were destroyed when the Public Record Office of Ireland burned down in 1922. For this reason, if you are able to find some details from your Irish ancestor's will in this Index it could be the turning point for you in breaking down a brick wall.
On Friday 7th May 1915 the Imperial German Navy's U-Boats carried out an operation that shocked the world when they torpedoed and sunk the liner RMS Lusitania. The loss of civilian lives caused outrage amongst the inhabitants of Britain and perhaps it is only to be expected that the frustrated and angry residents looked for someone to direct their bile towards. Unfortunately, for some of the local butchers and bakers in the Wandsworth area, the mob vented their anger on those who were of German descent.
In September 1939 Britain declared war on Germany and the government had to begin instituting the measures it would need for conscription and the introduction of ration books and identity cards. It would urgently need an up to date list of all the population and this couldn't wait for the next census that was scheduled for 1941. The solution was to take a survey of all the private citizens on 29th September 1939 and create what we know today as the 1939 Register.
As winter makes way for springtime there is nothing better than to grab our comfortable walking shoes and get out into the countryside. While out in the fresh air we may look around at our surroundings and wonder what it had been like there in the past. Who were the people that walked these fields, roads or paths and what happened here?
There are a myriad of records that we can use to discover more about our ancestors and to build a fascinating story of their lives. A resource that gives the researcher dates and places for where an ancestor had been at various times in their lives is one that will be valued by family historians.
The Lloyd George Domesday Survey 1910-1915 records for Southwark allows those with ancestors from this southern London area to research and find where their ancestors lived at the time. To see how this can be useful let us look at the family of Oscar winning actor Sir Michael Caine.
It is often of great use to family historians when we are able to discover an ancestor listed in a Who's Who type of publication as it can often fill in some gaps in the information that we may already have on an ancestor and point us towards other records and places to search for them. These records may also allow us to build a much more rounded picture of the life of a person that will enrich the telling of their story as part of a family history.
The joke often leveled at family historians is that we spend our time digging up our dead ancestors. While the majority of us would never go that far, a chance to look at our forebears' graves, and to read the inscriptions that are hopefully still visible, is enticing to us.
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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