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2021 Articles

Where did they live? – Mapping your ancestors' home in 1911 23rd December 2021

With the aid of this exciting tool we are able to see where a Great British Oscar winning actor began his life in the Cotswolds, 80 or so miles west of London, and where a film director as famous as his actors had lived when just a boy. We have also been able to research from a property location back to see who had been recorded there in the 1911 census results.

Ed Balls 26th November 2021

Edward Michael Balls is a British broadcaster, writer, economist, professor and former Labour politician who served as Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer from 2011 to 2015. As a child he grew up in a family that wanted to make the world a better place. Ed knows very little about his family history and he sets out to discover what kind of characters his ancestors were. Warning! Article contains spoilers for the programme to be broadcast Tuesday 30th November 2021.

Joe Sugg 16th November 2021

Joseph Graham Sugg is a YouTuber, actor, author and finalist from Strictly Come Dancing in 2019. As far as he knows, his mum's family come from Wiltshire and he has a strong relationship with his maternal grandparents and would love to discover more about that side of the family. "Amongst my ancestors there’s this recurring theme of determination. Throughout all those troubled times they have really stuck at it and worked hard and it has paid off." Warning! Article contains spoilers for the programme to be broadcast Tuesday 23rd November 2021.

Pixie Lott 2nd November 2021

Pixie Lott is a singer, songwriter and talent show judge from Bromley in Kent and hopes to discover the truth about a family story that claims she has Italian ancestry. She has heard that her grandfather's family potentially came from Verona and that there is also an Irish connection. "I just think I'm a bit of an old soul. I am fascinated with the past. Especially finding out my own history...where I came from and seeing if it makes sense with today and what I do now." Warning! Article contains spoilers for the programme to be broadcast Tuesday 9th November 2021.

Richmond owner and occupier records 29th October 2021

In the 1910s the Liberal government of David Lloyd George had the Inland Revenue undertake a massive survey of owners and occupiers of the country in order to introduce a property tax that would pay for the social welfare provisions included in the People’s Budget of 1909. From the family historian's point of view this has provided us with a unique combination of maps and residential data- we take a look at the area of Richmond upon Thames that was eventually to be developed into the home of The National Archives.

Joe Lycett 26th October 2021

Joe Lycett is well known to many as a British comedian and television presenter. In his episode he tells the viewers that he had a warm loving upbringing. He goes on to say that he would be very surprised if he was going anywhere other than Birmingham or Nottingham. Warning! Article contains spoilers for the programme to be broadcast Tuesday 2nd November 2021.

Alex Scott 19th October 2021

Alexandra Virina Scott MBE is an English television presenter, pundit, and former professional footballer. She was brought up in a single parent family in London after her father left when she was about 7 or 8 years old. She admits to the camera in the Who Do You Think You Are? episode to be shown on BBC One on Tuesday 26 October 2021, that she comes from a family that just didn't ask many questions about where they came from. Warning! Article contains spoilers for the programme to be broadcast Tuesday 26th October 2021.

George Harrison’s Wexford ancestors found in the Irish Parish Records 15th October 2021

George Harrison was born in Liverpool in 1943 to Harold H Harrison and Louise French. His birth is to be found in the English Civil Registration records and we can discover that George's parents had married in 1943, also in the Lancashire city. But it is simple to go back a generation and to make a connection from Liverpool back to a small townland in County Wexford, Ireland where his mother's family had lived for hundreds of years. If we follow this Irish line back even further, through a number of centuries, we would find that George's ancestors came from Norman overlords who were originally from France.

Dame Judi Dench 12th October 2021

Named Britain's best actor on multiple occasions. Her roles range from James Bond films to Shakespearean dramas and in the episode of Who Do You Think You Are? (to be broadcast on BBC One on Tuesday 19 October 2021) Dame Judi tells how her parents were both incredibly full of life with lots of visits to theatre as a child. She discovers that her Irish cousins have found a review of her very first professional performance in Hamlet in 1957. Warning! Article contains spoilers for the programme to be broadcast Tuesday 19th October 2021.

Josh Widdicombe 5th October 2021

Though he was born in London, and now lives back in the capital city, he grew up in Dartmoor, Devon. In his episode of Who Do You Think You Are? (to be broadcast on BBC One on Tuesday 12th October 2021) he reveals that it was such a small rural community that there were only four children in his village class. Warning! Article contains spoilers for the programme to be broadcast Tuesday 12th October 2021.

Parish Registers – Egalitarian Records Where Royalty And Ordinary Folk Share The Same Page 24th September 2021

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? 2021 Series 18 13th September 2021

"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

The home of St Trinian's and The Lavender Hill Mob appears in the land tax records IR58 3rd September 2021

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.

Keeping it in the Family - The Tale of Land's End 13th August 2021

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.

Searching the Suffolk Parish Records finds the man who accused the Lowestoft Witches 30th July 2021

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.

Haringey land valuation records uncovers the modest house that gave its name to a famous football stadium 15th July 2021

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.

Alexander Thom – Publisher and The Queen’s Printer for Ireland 2nd July 2021

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.

Scottish Census Records list the homes of Scots from city dwellers to lighthouse keepers 17th June 2021

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.

View your ancestor's home town as they would have seen it, using the Image Archive on Map Explorer™ 27th May 2021

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.

Guy Gibson and the Dambuster raid found in R.A.F. Operations Record Books 14th May 2021

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.

Using the Index of Irish Wills 1484-1858 to discover more about ancestors’ important details 30th April 2021

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.

Finding the Wandsworth homes attacked in the WW1 'Lusitania' Riots 16th April 2021

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.

A Window on September 1939 and George Formby the entertainer 30th March 2021

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.

Travelling back in time with MapExplorer™ in your hand 19th March 2021

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?

Military Records fill in the blanks and point where to look next 5th March 2021

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.

Property records from the 1910s show us the Southwark of Michael Caine's family 12th February 2021

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.

Who, What, Where, When? - Discovering Who's Who 29th January 2021

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.

Headstones and Church Memorial plaques are a fantastic resource for family historians 8th January 2021

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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