#Adoption #Mystery ‘The Pearl Sister’ by Lucinda Riley @lucindariley

I really enjoyed The Pearl Sister, the fourth in Lucinda Riley’s Seven Sisters adoption mysteries. While Maia, Ally and Star have already investigated their birth stories, Celaeno, CeCe, has shown no interest in her own. She is feeling sorry for herself, alone now that Star has become independent. Until her curiosity is piqued. Pa Salt’s lawyer tells her about a bequest, a large sum of money, and a photograph of two unidentified men. He advises CeCe to investigate Kitty Mercer from Broome in Australia. Lucinda Riley

On her journey to Australia, CeCe stops off in Thailand, staying at Railey Beach where she has holidayed in the past with Star. As she wonders why she is there alone, feeling envious of Star’s new home and new love in England, she meets a mysterious man on the beautiful beach. They bond over the morning sunrise, both are hurting – CeCe is missing Star and feeling betrayed by her sister’s newfound life, while Ace is hiding a big secret he cannot, or will not, explain. Riley hints that behind the beauty of Railey Beach there is a dark, sordid side. Could Ace be involved in drugs? Then when CeCe steps off the plane in Australia, she discovers Ace has been arrested and believes CeCe betrayed him to the press. As the journalists identify CeCe’s name and location, she runs away to Broome.

As with all the earlier novels in the series, the story of The Pearl Sister is told in two strands. CeCe is in 2008, Kitty Mercer’s story starts in 1906. The eldest daughter of a Edinburgh preacher, Kitty goes on a nine month trip to Australia as companion to the wealthy Mrs McCrombie. It changes Kitty’s life. She drinks alcohol for the first time, kisses a man, and acts immodestly in ways that would shock her clergyman father. Two men, twin brothers, pay attention to her. Drummond is the dangerous brother, the one who kisses her. But Kitty reverts to type by marrying the steady, safe, Andrew Mercer, and moves to Broome where he runs the family’s pearl fishing company for his father.

I found Kitty’s story enthralling, she is a true rebel at a time when women were finding their feet and their voices. She has a way of identifying people needing help. Along her life’s journey she collects waifs and strays, rescuing them from hunger, mistreatment, poverty and racism, giving them opportunities, security and winning their loyalty. Each of them comes to play a critical role in Kitty’s life; from Camira, the pregnant Aboriginal servant girl thrown from the house by her master, to Sarah, the fifteen year old orphan met on a boat from England who has a gift with the sewing needle.

Australia the country and the lives and customs of its Aboriginal people are a dominant presence throughout this novel. Be warned, it will make you want to visit. Throughout it all runs the enticing descriptions of Aboriginal art, by real artists such as Albert Namatjira who lived and worked at the Hermannsburg Lutheran Mission outside Alice Springs, which CeCe visits.

The loose ends come together in the end though Riley did keep me guessing on a couple of the links. The significance of Ace and CeCe’s time in Thailand was one such puzzle. These are all hefty books, but I read this one quickly. It’s my favourite of the series so far which seems to get better with every book.
BUY

Next in the series is The Moon Sister, the story of Tiggy.

Read my reviews of the first three novels in the series:-
The Seven Sisters
The Storm Sister
The Shadow Sister

If you like this, try:-
Pale as the Dead’ by Fiona Mountain
Blood Atonement’ by Dan Waddell
‘Blue-Eyed Son’ by Nicky Campbell 

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
THE PEARL SISTER by @lucindariley #adoption #mystery https://wp.me/paZ3MX-aP via @SandraDanby

Find Missing Births #familyhistory #adoptionreunion

Anyone researching their family history has to start with the two main life events: birth and death. Birth seems the obvious place to start, but finding certificates is not always straightforward. Adoption may be one reason, as Rose Haldane discovers in Ignoring Gravity,

Family tree

[illustration: @SandraDanby]

If you have hit a brick wall searching for UK records, try these tips by genealogist Laura Berry:-

Informal change of name: it is perfectly legal for a person to change name without officially informing the authorities. Add to that the confusion caused by people by interchanging their first and middle names, perhaps because they dislike it. Some names were simply mis-spelled, either by the record-taker or the person reporting the birth. If in doubt, search for the mother’s maiden surname.

A different quarter: until 1984, the GRO birth indexes for England and Wales were organised quarterly [after this it switched to annual]. Perhaps the birth you are looking for has been recorded in the next quarter. Parents at this time had 42 days in which to record a birth.

Common names: if you are searching for a common surname and common first name, try looking for siblings with more unusual first names. Search in the registration district covering the area of birth, around the birth date.

Illegitimacy: an area of much potential confusion, accidental and purposeful.The birth of a child born out of wedlock was usually registered under the mother’s maiden surname. The child may have acquired a stepfather’s surname at a later date, and that stepfather may have been recorded on further documents.  But the chance of finding the name of the birth father is slim.

Age confusion: the usual route to finding a birth comes from the person’s age stated on another document. But, people do not always record their age truthfully for a variety of reasons: for vanity, to enlist in the army, for employment reasons etc. Expand your search of birth records by 10 years, plus and minus.

Birth overseas: if you suspect your relative was born abroad, there are numerous overseas birth records are available at Find My Past and The Genealogist. Available are the India Office birth and baptism records, children born at armed forces bases, births of British nationals born overseas which were registered with the British Consul or High Commission in that country, and births aboard British registered vessels and aircraft.

Father confusion: perhaps the child in question was born legitimately but the father subsequently disappeared or died. The child may consider the man who raised it as its father, but was actually their stepfather. If this is the case, check for a re-marriage by the mother.

No baptism: not everyone was baptised at the local parish church but in one of the UK nonconformist congregations. Try instead the national collections of nonconformist baptism registers at The GenealogistFind My Past or Ancestry.

They are not in the GRO index: From 1837, Superintendent Registrars were responsible for registering all births. But this proved difficult in practice. In 1875, parents became responsible for registering their child’s birth, with a fine for non-completion, so after this date the registers become more reliable. Consider that your relative’s surname may have been spelt wrongly or missed out completely. You can apply to the local registration office where you think your relative was born, this is where the original local index are kept. Some regional indexes are going online at UKBMD.

Not born in England: perhaps your relative was born in Scotland or Ireland. Check the Scottish records at Scotland’s People. For Ireland, check Family Search or Find My Past Ireland.

This post was inspired by Laura Berry’s article ‘Search like a pro and Find Missing Births’ in the March 2016 issue of the UK’s Who Do You Think You Are? magazine. 

For more articles about researching family records, try:-
Did your relative train as an apprentice?
The paternity question
Further information #Adoption #AdoptionReunion #HelpfulLinks 

I used these tips when plotting the birth mystery of Rose Haldane in Ignoring Gravity. For more about the ‘Identity Detective’ series of adoption reunion mysteries, watch the book trailer.
BUY

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Find Missing Births #familyhistory #adoptionreunion https://wp.me/paZ3MX-4J via #AdoptionStoriesBlog

True #adoption story… Jessica Long #adoptionstories #Paralympics

Jessica Long is a record-beating US Paralympic swimming star, winning a dozen Paralympic gold medals games in Athens, Beijing and London. Born Tatiana, she was left by her teenage Russian parents at an orphanage in Bratsk, Siberia because they could not cope with her disabilities. A year later she was adopted by American couple Beth and Steve Long and grew up in Baltimore, USA.

Jessica Long

Jessica Long was named Tatiana by her Russian parents

Born with fibular hemimelia – without fibulas, ankles, heels or most bones in her feet – she was adopted at the age of 13 months. Five months later, the remainder of the lower parts of her legs were amputated so she could be fitted for prosthetic legs and learn how to walk. The Longs are a sporting family. ‘I am one of six children and my parents made sure we all remained active. I have been involved in many sports including gymnastics, basketball, cheerleading, ice skating, biking, running, and rock climbing. However, I always loved swimming the most. I learned how to swim in my grandparents’ pool where my sisters and I would spend hours pretending we were mermaids.’

Jessica Long

Baby Jessica coming out of the pool

After talking to a Russian journalist about her Siberian birth, she made contact with her birth parents who, unmarried at the time of Tatiana’s birth, went on to marry and have a family.

Jessica Long

Jessica and her American father, Steve Long

Jessica’s real mother, Natalia, now 38, explained on Russian television how she felt two decades ago, at the age of 18, after giving birth to a seriously disabled daughter. ‘I feel so sorry,’ she said. ‘At that time – there was some fear, I got scared. I had to leave her behind. But I did think that I would take her back,’ she said. ‘Of course I was against leaving her in the hospital but because of the circumstances we had to do so. In my heart I did want to take her home, and thought I would take her back later. I was alone in Siberia, without my mother and father. Where would I go with her, if I had taken her? Doctors told me to leave her behind – said that I could not help her… I called her Tatiana, after my elder sister.’

Jessica’s American father, Steve, remembers, ‘It took us a lot of time to sort out all the paperwork for adoption. We had no idea she had some parents. We thought she was an orphan. And she had serious problems with legs. She does not have bones in her legs down from her knees, right after knees there are feet with fingers. We turned to many professionals in order to solve this problem.’

Jessica’s Russian Aunt Tatiana, for whom she was named, recalled how her sister Natalia phoned to tell her the news about Jessica, adding she was on her way to a TV interview about her daughter. ‘My sister Natalia called me. She said: ‘I am flying to Moscow, Jessica Long is my daughter. She has been searching for me for three years…  I nearly lost my consciousness, I was so shocked. At that moment I had been watching Paralympic Games. The swimming had been on and I saw Jessica there. Then I looked online. Jessica is so much like her sister Nastya. She is just Nastya’s lookalike.’

Jessica said, ‘Who would have ever imagined that a girl with a disability from an orphanage in Siberia would be where I am today? I’m living proof that you can accomplish your dreams, no matter how great or small. I would like to thank God, my family, friends, and coaches for always encouraging me! I couldn’t be successful without them!’

If you like this true story, read:-
Philip Sais
Van Dai & Siobhan
Bob MacNish

If you’d like to share a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
True #adoption story… Jessica Long #Paralympics https://wp.me/paZ3MX-bg via #AdoptionStoriesBlog

#FamilyHistory #Mystery ‘Blood Atonement’ by Dan Waddell @danwaddell

A fascinating mixture of modern crime novel and family history research, Blood Atonement takes Nigel Barnes from London to the USA as he races against time to find answers for Detective Chief Inspector Grant Foster.Dan Waddell

Foster’s first case after returning to work following injuries sustained in The Blood Detective [first in this genealogical crime series] is a dead actress and her missing daughter. Links to the actress’s past, mystery about her family and unanswered questions, lead Foster to call in the help of genealogist Nigel Barnes. Both men are strong characters who walk off the page, both loners of a kind, both lonely in love.

This is a fast-moving mystery revolving around what happened to Horton and Sarah Rowley, who we know from flashbacks were teenage sweethearts planning to run away, but who only appear in records in the UK from 1891. Before that, they cease to exist. Where did they come from, and why were they running? Simply because their parents disapproved of the marriage, or something more sinister? And what has this to do with the dead actress found lying face down on her lawn in London? As he searches for the missing 14-year old, Foster finds chilling parallels with Leonie, another 14-year old who disappeared three years earlier and has never been found. As links to a cult are uncovered, attention focuses back on Sarah and Horton.

A satisfying well-written plot which manages to slip in a little history too.
BUY THE BOOK
Read my review of the first in the series, The Blood Detective.

If you like this genealogy mystery, try:-
Deadly Descent’ by Charlotte Hinger
The Shadow Sister’ by Lucinda Riley
The Indelible Stain’ by Wendy Percival 

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
#FamilyHistory #Mystery BLOOD ATONEMENT by @danwaddell https://wp.me/paZ3MX-4E via #AdoptionStoriesBlog

True #adoption story… Sheila Mercier #adoption #Emmerdale #truestory

Best known to UK television audiences of the Yorkshire farming series Emmerdale Farm as Annie Sugden, actress Sheila Mercier was born in Hull, a New Year’s baby born on January 1, 1919. She died in December 2019 at the age of 100.

Sheila Mercier

[photo: PA Media]

Mercier remembered a Victorian childhood ‘cossetted so much by servants that I have an abiding memory of my mother ringing for the maid whenever she wanted another piece of coal to be put on the fire.’ Sheila’s fledgling acting career was put on hold with the outbreak of World War Two in which she served with the Women’s Auxiliary Force. On the eve of her 21st birthday, she was raped at a party. Thirty years later, the daughter she gave up for adoption tracked her down. Mercier wrote about the rape and her subsequent pregnancy in Annie’s Song, published in 1995.

‘A lot of young men were there [at the party], all getting very merry,’ she told the Yorkshire Post newspaper in 1994. ‘One pilot asked me to go with him to his room to stoke the fire. This I did and was standing there when, suddenly, I was seized, thrown on the bed and raped.’ Her parents gave her an ultimatum, to sort herself out or find a way of living. Mercier’s father tracked down the baby’s father who offered to marry Mercier, who declined. The baby was adopted and named Janet by her new family. Mercier was able to write and in return she received photographs until one day a letter arrived asking her to cease contact.

In 1969 Janet, herself a wife and mother of three children, traced Mercier and got in touch. ‘I was absolutely wild with joy and phoned her immediately,’ said Mercier. ‘The rapport was instant.’
Sheila MercierBUY THE BOOK

Sheila MercierWatch the moment in a 1973 episode of Emmerdale Farm when Amos Brearley asks Annie to ‘walk out with him’ because he needs a wife and thinks she’d be ‘best for t’job’.

Sheila Mercier

Emmerdale Farm, vol 1 1972

BUY the DVD

If you like this true story, read:-
Helen Harrison
Denise Temple
Amy Seek

If you’d like to share a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Sheila Mercier #Emmerdale #adoption #truestory https://wp.me/paZ3MX-aW via #AdoptionStoriesBlog

Did your relative train as an apprentice? #familyhistory

If you know your ancestor’s trade, there is a good chance he or she may have trained through an apprenticeship scheme. In 1563, the Statute of Artificers and Apprentices forbade anyone from practising a craft without first serving as an apprentice. And from 1710, a duty was levied. These records form a central register of apprentices by the Inland Revenue and held at The National Archives.

Apprentices

‘The fellow ‘prentices at their looms’ by William Hogarth, 1747

As well as trade apprenticeships, there were also apprenticeships which were arranged specifically by parish overseers of the poor and were intended to prevent the child being a burden on the parish. As pauper apprenticeships were liable for duty the records are kept separately, often found in local record offices and parish chests.

Chimney Sweeps

Chimney Sweep’ by Marcellus Laroon, 1679 [photo: Londonlives.org]

If your research is based on London, start with London Lives where pauper apprenticeship records range from 1690-1800. It has a useful guide ‘Researching Apprenticeships’.

Some of the apprentice records held at The National Archives have been digitised and are now available at Find My Past, including the London Apprenticeship Abstracts [1440-1850] which list all those apprenticed to livery companies in London. It also includes regional records from Manchester and Lincolnshire.

The Board of Stamps apprenticeship books record payments on the duty of indentures, as mentioned above. These records are available at The National Archives. If searching by name, remember that often that until 1752 the child’s parents’ names may also be given.

A useful description of the different types of apprenticeships and the associated records, can be found at GenGuide. There is also a summary of the major places where apprenticeship records are held with user-friendly links.

Child coal workers

‘Child dragging coal in a Halifax mine’ by Peter Higginbotham, 1842 [photo: workhouses.org.uk]

For an overview of the pauper apprenticeship scheme, read this article at the Workhouses website. Boys originally started an apprenticeship at the age of 10, until the age was dropped to seven in 1698. This website is a good source of information if one of your relatives spent time in a workhouse.

Always check with your local archive and try Google, there are many smaller websites specialising in particular occupations.

This post is inspired by an article by Jonathan Scott in the April 2017 issue of Who Do You Think You Are?’ magazine.

For more articles about researching family records, try:-
Check your local records
Films bring history to life
Did your relative belong to a #tradeunion 

Ignoring Gravity

Rose Haldane, in Ignoring Gravity, is a journalist. To find out about journalism training schemes, check out the National Council for Training of Journalists.

5* A reader at Amazon said, “‘Ignoring Gravity’ is a very enjoyable read from beginning to end. The warm story will tear at your heart strings one moment, and make you smile the next”

Start reading the ‘Identity Detective’ series with Ignoring Gravity… Two pairs of sisters, separated by a generation of secrets: Rose is confident about her identity. She knows her DNA is the same as her grandmother’s. Except it isn’t because Rose is adopted & doesn’t know it. BUY

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Did your relative train as an apprentice? #familyhistory https://wp.me/paZ3MX-4w via #AdoptionStoriesBlog

#Adoption #Autobiography ‘Blue-Eyed Son’ by @NickyAACampbell

Blue-Eyed Son by journalist and broadcaster Nicky Campbell is a personal story but everyone will be able to identify with his themes of family love, the need for belonging and a clear sense of identity.  Campbell knows how to tell a story well. He charts the ups and downs of his search for his birth mother and father, the agonies of deciding to search, the worries about whether he was betraying his adoptive family. Nicky Campbell

He shares the pain, the anticipation of making that first contact: “She [his wife Linda] stood in the hall and dialled the number. I was sitting on the stairs, rigid with fear, my head buried in my hands, my body folding into a foetal position. I really didn’t think I could go through with it. I was petrified and exhausted. What the hell would I say? What the hell do you say? This woman gave birth to me. I needed an epidural.

“I had held this fantasy in my head for years. I had a mental picture of a beautiful but driven career woman – a free spirit who found herself in this impossible situation and made an extraordinary sacrifice. She gave her baby away. Her baby was about to catch up with her. we were about to speak to her. I was about to clothe this idealised wraith in humanity. At 29 I was about to make the first connection with my own flesh and blood, someone to whom I was genetically connected. That word – genetic – it had an almost sacred meaning for me. [It still does.] A genetic link; a magical bond. An inexpressible essence of belonging and being.

“From my seat on the stairs I could hear the ring at the other end. It stopped. A woman’s voice. Soft, Irish, hesitant and wary. ‘Hello.’

Campbell finds so much more than his birth mother and father, he finds his family. It doesn’t matter that he is a face familiar on the television, his story will affect everyone.
BUY

If you like this, try:-
Relative Strangers’ by Hunter Davies
The Blood Detective’ by Dan Waddell
Pale as the Dead’ by Fiona Mountain

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
#Adoption #Autobiography BLUE-EYED SON by @NickyAACampbell https://wp.me/paZ3MX-4r via #AdoptionStoriesBlog