Category Archives: Researching your family history

The reality of #adoptionreunion #searching #truestories

Davina McCall, presenter of the long-running television series ‘Long Lost Family’, said: “Finding someone, when the trail has gone cold, can seem like an impossible task”

Long Lost Family

Davina McCall & Nicky Campbell [photo: Long Lost Family]

There are two faces to adoption: public and private. Some relatives remain secret, hidden forever, the separated players remaining apart and unknown. Some people struggle with the decision to search, when they do they may be elated or dejected. The story of the birth mother and father is often not heard, somehow their voice can be forgotten in the hubbub of reunion. Some lucky people do have a happy ending. The path is always painful.

Adoption can be the making of some people, it can save lives, give a new chance, solve problems and bring happiness to abandoned children and childless couples, a new start to the birth parents who for their own reasons made that agonizing decision. British television is full of programmes about adoption reunion and family history. It started with the BBC trailblazer Who Do You Think You Are?, now a global phenomenon and still going strong. ITV got in on the act with Long Lost Family and now co-presenter Nicky Campbell is hosting a new series concentrating on the behind-the-scenes process of adoption today, Wanted: A Family of My Own. Nicky Campbell’s own memoir, Blue-Eyed Son, was an important part of my reading.

How it feels to a) be a birth parent who has, for whatever reason, to give a child up for adoption, b) that child, given to another set of parents, or c) the adoptive parents who take a child not their own into their lives, cannot by fully understood except the people who experience it. As a writer I tried to put myself into their shoes by research, I read memoirs of people involved in every aspect of adoption, asked questions, researched over years, but I know I can never really get under the skin. So I researched as far as I could, and then I used my imagination.

The wealth of support available now is rich for all people involved in the adoption process. My ‘Identity Detective’ series – Ignoring Gravity and its sequel Connectedness – are adoption reunion mysteries. Both involve adoptions contracted when the system was not as transparent nor as helpful as today, when the overwhelming urge was for secrecy to protect identities and emotions. So it is in the past that Rose Haldane must search for the true adoption stories, where the trail has gone cold, records lost, the will to continue searching has eroded but the need to know is still there. Rose Haldane, identity detective, finds the answers most difficult to uncover. But that is just fiction.

Adoption is a reality for many people today, wanting to find their own roots in family history. If you are considering searching for a relative lost through adoption, and the adoption pre-dates 2005, the Adoption Search Reunion website may be able to help. It provides information for adopted people, birth relatives and also adoptive parents in England and Wales as well as for adoption professionals. The information available applies only to adoptions made before December 30, 2005. There are separate sections for adopted people, birth relatives and adoptive parents.  It includes advice on contacting relatives, how to search, where to find local records.

More about the original BBC series Who Do You Think You Are? plus links to an amazing depth of information about family history throughout the BBC archives.

Watch an episode of Long Lost Family via ITV Player. Laurence Peat tried to find his mother, but information on his adoption file led nowhere. Denise Temple is desperate to find the daughter she was forced to give up for adoption.

Watch Wanted: A Family of My Own via ITV Player.

Read my review of Nicky Campbell’s book Blue-Eyed Son, about the search for his birth parents.

For more articles about researching family records, try:-
Was your relative a #boatman
The paternity question
Further information #Adoption #AdoptionReunion #HelpfulLinks 

Sandra Danby

★★★★★ “I devoured the book in one go, unable to put it down despite the tirade of emotions it brought to the surface”

Start the ‘Identity Detective’ series of #adoptionreunion mysteries with Ignoring Gravity. When you don’t know who you are any more, it’s time to ask questions. Will Rose Haldane like the answers she hears or wish she’d never asked? #secrets #mystery #family #KU BUY THE BOOK

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
The reality of #adoptionreunion https://wp.me/paZ3MX-7G via #AdoptionStoriesBlog

Was your relative a #boatman #familyhistory #researching

During the UK’s Industrial Revolution, raw materials and finished goods were transported around the country by canal. By the mid-19thcentury though, the new railways were taking away the business of the barges. Working on a canal boat was a tough life. Slow boats could take up to seven days to go from Birmingham to London and boatmen were expected to work up to 20 hours a day. Records reach to the end of the 20th century so may contain birth fathers and paternal family lines.

Burscough Canal

Burscough Canal [photo: boatfamilies.website]

Under threat from the railways, ‘family’ boats became numerous with a wife and children travelling with her husband. Boating became a closed occupation and outsiders, gongoozlers, discouraged. Boat people developed their own dress, language and took great pride in the decoration of their boats. Acts of Parliament were passed in 1877 and 1884 making canal boats subject to inspection to check living conditions, and some of these inspection reports survive in local archives.

Considering the itinerant nature of the boatman, there are a number of excellent resources for family history researchers:-

The Boat Families website is a resource kept by local enthusiasts, cataloguing life on the Leeds-Liverpool Canal & associated waterways, especially in South-West Lancashire. Names are listed by canal family, with more than 32,000 individuals named.

A search for ‘boatmen’ at the British Newspaper Archive yielded articles dating from 1700 to the present day, from around the UK. Examples include an 1886 Seamen’s and Boatman’s Mission Conference in Bristol, and in 1904 a canal boatman’s strike in Kirkintilloch.

The Coventry Family History Society runs the Coventry Canal Boat Register covers the years from 1879 to 1936 and is searchable by the surname or the boats’ owners and masters.

The Canal & River Trust has a breadth of information about the waterways and also a document library with useful information about life on the canals. As a charity, it protects 2000 miles of waterways in England Wales.

The Canal Boat Register Index 1795-1797 can be found at Staffordshire Name Indexes, it includes the names and place of abode of the vessels’ owners and masters, the number and capacity of the men employed onboard, information about the vessel such as it’ burthen (load), number and usual navigation route.

Wigan Council Archives Services holds the Wigan Canal Boats Register for the years 1878-1951. Information listed includes name of boat, date registered, boat name, master name, boat owner, cargo and notes. Many were owned by Wigan Coal & Iron Company, Smethurst Hoyle & Grime, Leeds & Liverpool Canal Coand Newburgh Corn Mills. There are some intriguing notes, such as “Coal & cannel; wide boat not fly” and “Fore cabin not to be used as dwelling”.

Many records will be found in local authority archives, such as company minutes and correspondence, wage sheets and workmen’s timetables, even wartime records. Finding a possible location for your boatman ancestor will help you to find a local archive to explore. Also try The National Archives Discovery Cataloguewhere a search for ‘boatmen’ yields 471 records including boatmen’s licences, payments, wages and accidents up to the 1990s.

This post is inspired by an article by Linda Barley of the Canal & River Trust in the May 2017 issue of Who Do You Think You Are?’ magazine.

For more articles about researching family records, try:-
Was your relative an apothecary
Where to start your #familyhistory search
How to use British trade directories 

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Was your relative a boatman? #familyhistory https://wp.me/paZ3MX-7z via #AdoptionStoriesBlog

Was your relative an apothecary #FamilyHistory #Researching

The role of apothecaries changed in the UK in the mid 18thcentury. Until that time, an apothecary’s role was to prepare and sell medicines. They trained via an apprenticeship and no medical qualifications were required. They were not allowed to charge for medical advice, only for the preparations they sold.

Interior of an apothecary's shop

Interior of an apothecary’s shop [photo: Wikipedia]

Much of an apothecary’s day was spent making medicines, dispensing medicines from the shop and, from the mid 18thcentury, visiting patients at home. In small towns and rural areas, the apothecary was the first port of call in illness. In 1790, Adam Smith described apothecaries as ‘the physicians of the poor at all times and of the rich when the danger is not very great’. Women were able to work in the occupation, assisting a husband or father.

Apothecaries Hall

Apothecaries Hall [photo: apothecaries.org]

The 1815 Apothecaries Act recognised the ‘general practise’ work done in the community by apothecaries and permitted them to charge fees for attending patients. It also introduced a five year apprenticeship, the trainee had to pass an examination set by the Worshipful Society of Apothecaries [above]. The Society of Apothecaries was incorporated as a City Livery Company by royal charter from James I on 6 December 1617 in recognition of apothecaries’ specialist skills in compounding and dispensing medicines. The Society of Apothecaries is number 58 and the largest of the livery companies of the City of London. In addition to its traditional civic, ceremonial, social and charitable activities, the Society has been licensing doctors to practise medicine since 1815. The apothecaries acquired their hall in Blackfriars in 1632.

Laboratory of Society of Apothecaries in 1922

Laboratory of Society of Apothecaries in 1922 [photo: Wikipedia]

As more and more apothecaries established themselves as general practitioners, their role of dispensing medicines was taken over by the chemists and druggists; the latter were limited to their shops. The Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain was founded in 1841 to represent the interests of chemists and druggists; later they would come to be called pharmacists. Some apothecaries also studied surgery for the Member of the Royal College of Surgeons qualification; they called themselves ‘surgeon-apothecaries’. For apothecaries, chemists and druggists, it was essential to build a good local reputation in order to attract clientele.

If you are checking census records for a relative who was a medical professional, it was common for the qualification to be quoted; perhaps apothecary, surgeon-apothecary, or general practitioner. If your relative kept an apothecary’s shop, they may be listed in a trade directory. Check the English and Welsh listings at the University of Leicester’s online Special Collections archive, including local gazeteers and Kelly’s directories. For Scottish Post Office directories, go to the National Library of Scotland.

You may also find trade listings, advertisements, obituaries and news stories relating to your apothecary relative in local newspapers, so check the British Newspaper Archive.

If your relative was working as a GP, check the Medical Directory [published from 1846] and the Medical Register [from 1859]; available at large city libraries and specialist medical archives such as the Wellcome Library.

The archive at the Worshipful Society of Apothecaries is not permanently staffed, so it is necessary to apply in advance. Itscollection is made up of paintings, silverware, furniture and a range of pharmaceutical, medical and other artefacts which have associations with the Society and its work. Microfilm copies exist for many of the major series of the Society’s pre-20th-century records.

Chelsea Physic Garden

Chelsea Physic Garden [photo chelseaphysicgarden.co.uk]

Visit the Chelsea Physic Garden [above] which was established in 1673 by the Society of Apothecaries beside the River Thames in order to grow medicinal plants. Today it contains a living collection of around 5,000 different edible, useful and medicinal plants.

If you’re searching for relatives and want to search online safely try the Lost Cousins website, which matches you with other people researching the same ancestors. It’s worth signing up for the Lost Cousins newsletter too.

Today’s pharmacists and pharmacy technicians in the UK are regulated by the General Pharmaceutical Council, you can use the search to find an individual pharmacist if you have a name.

This post is inspired by an article in the June 2018 issue of ‘Who Do You Think You Are?’ magazine.

For more articles about researching family records, try:-
Searching British newspaper archives
Did your relative belong to a #tradeunion
How to use British trade directories 

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Was your relative an apothecary #FamilyHistory #Researching https://wp.me/paZ3MX-7s via #AdoptionStoriesBlog

Using maps #familyhistory #genealogy

Understanding your lost relatives is a little easier when you can place them geographically. Today there are huge online resources of historical maps which make this easier.

1925 Carr Naze and Filey Brigg

1925 Carr Naze and Filey Brigg [photo: britainfromabove.org.uk]

If you are searching for someone today and you have an address, the best place to start is the simplest: Google Maps. Just type in a place name and map focuses on the area you want, making it easy to find addresses from birth certificates, for example. When you are dealing with an area of the country with which you are unfamiliar, using GoogleMaps allows you to familiarise yourself with the area and perhaps connect up a couple of clues which previously did not make sense. For example, birth certificates or baptism records with addresses which do not tally with other clues you have. Looking at the area on a map can often clarify the options.

Britain From Above allows you to look down on early to mid-20th century homes, from the skies. For example, I grew up on the North Yorkshire coast near Filey, here [top and below] are two photographs from the area. Top is a 1925 photograph showing Carr Naze and Filey Brigg; the pic below shows Crescent Hill and Foreshore Road in Filey in 1932. The town is completely recognizable, compared with Filey today.

1932 Crescent Hill and Foreshore Road, Filey

1932 Crescent Hill and Foreshore Road, Filey [photo britainfromabove.org.uk]

If you are searching historical records, the British History Online website is a good place to start. There you will find an enormous amount of information available for Britain and Ireland between 1300 and 1800.

If your research takes you beyond the UK, Old Maps Online is a portal to historical maps in libraries around the world. Curious, I searched for Ronda in Andalucía, where we used to live. The nearest map I could find which referenced Ronda was this 1943 map [below], sourced from the British War Office.

Ronda, Spain

British War Office GSGC of Ronda area

The more you study the maps and read the local history of the area of the people you are researching, the more you will understand them. As part of my research for Ignoring Gravity, I got to know the area around Southfields and Wimbledon, London, particularly well. Rose Haldane, my heroine, was born in 1968, but her flat is clearly visible on this photograph [below] from Britain From Above’s archives in 1952. Perhaps her birth mother or father lived in the same area in the 1950s?

1952 Wimbledon Park

1952 Wimbledon Park from the south-west [photo: britainfromabove.org.uk]

This post was inspired by the article ‘Mapping Your Family’ in the February 2015 issue of the UK’s Who Do You Think You Are? magazine.

For more articles about researching family records, try:-
Finding your nonconformist relative
Genetic map ‘People of the British Isles’
Identifying headstones 

Sandra Danby

★★★★★ “I devoured the book in one go, unable to put it down despite the tirade of emotions it brought to the surface”

Start the ‘Identity Detective’ series of #adoptionreunion mysteries with Ignoring Gravity. When you don’t know who you are any more, it’s time to ask questions. Will Rose Haldane like the answers she hears or wish she’d never asked? #secrets #mystery #family #KU BUY

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Use maps to locate your family in city or countryside #familyhistory https://wp.me/paZ3MX-7i via #AdoptionStoriesBlog

Identifying headstones #familyhistory #graveyards

Tracing relatives – whether you are researching your family tree or on the trail of your birth family – will inevitably lead you at some point to a graveyard. Finding the headstones of relatives is always a bittersweet moment, but the text and dates may drive your search onwards.

gravestone

[photo: @SandraDanby]

That process is now easier as 22,000 new UK headstone records have been added to the database at The Genealogist with additions of records from Buckinghamshire, Devon, Gloucestershire, Northamptonshire, Somerset, West Midlands, Wiltshire plus 12 Jersey parishes.

Each entry comprises the text of the memorial inscription, photographs of the headstone and its surroundings. Once you have identified the record you want, you can then view a map showing the graveyard location. For more information about the online headstone database, click here for The Genealogist.

For more articles about researching family records, try:-
How #adoption became a legal process #UK
How History Pin puts your #familytree research on a map
Was your relative a VAD nurse in the Great War?

Sandra Danby

In Ignoring Gravity, first in the ‘Identity Detective’ series of adoption reunion mysteries, Rose Haldane unravels the mystery of her birth. She searches a graveyard for the headstone of her birth mother. Before writing this scene. I spent a long afternoon in a local churchyard, absorbing the atmosphere, reading the dedications. BUY
Watch the book trailer.

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Identifying headstones #familyhistory #graveyards https://wp.me/paZ3MX-79 via #AdoptionStoriesBlog

Understanding your relatives’ #babyname choices #genealogy

Naming a baby can give you clues to all sorts things about your ancestors. Time of birth [Christmas or Easter perhaps], religion, hobbies, the place of birth, for maternal or paternal grandparents, and for the royal family. Modern day babies may be named for the star of a hit television show, or the father’s favourite footballer. This style of naming choice is not new. Finn, meaning fair, or white, originates from Fionn mac Cumhaill [below], the mythical hunter-warrior of Irish mythology. It can give you a clue to the geographical area your baby was born, the time, class and lifestyle.

Finn mac Cumhaill

Finn – Finn mac Cumhaill [illustration by Stephen Reid]

Names can be traced in families through the generations, not only first names but sometimes a mother’s maiden name too. Many second names amongst 19thcentury gentry were the mother’s maiden name, it was a way of keeping a surname alive if the male line died out. At least ten American presidents have their mother’s maiden name as a middle name. Sometimes this led to the use double-barrelled surnames; in the 18thand 19thcenturies, the mothers of illegitimate children would give them their father’s full name and their own surname. So if one of your relatives from that time has a surname for a middle name, it is likely he was illegitimate.

Names go in and out of fashion, and this is another useful way of pinpointing lifestyle and culture. At the start of the 18th century, the upper class starting to use Latin names such as Horatio. They also Latinised English names, turning Joan into Joanna, Maude into Matilda, and Anne into Anna. These names then trickled down through the classes. It was at this time also that the upper classes started to use French girls’ names, often those which are feminised versions of boys’ names, for example, Jacqueline, Charlotte and Christine. The name Albert has been popular for 80 years, becoming popular in 1840 on the marriage of Princess Victoria to Prince Albert [below].

Albert – Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha

Albert – Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha [portrait by Franz Xaver Winterhalter]

Until 1900, the most popular baby names remained static. In 1700, and again in 1850, the top ten included William, John, Thomas, Mary, Anne and Elizabeth. Fashions came and went according to the names chosen by famous people, who was in the news, and the current novel being read. So, Sir Walter Scott’s novels caused a rise in the choices of Waverley and Flora. Alice was popular after being chosen by Queen Victoria for her daughter. Clarissa has a long literary history, featuring as a name in the novels of Samuel Richardson, Charles Dickens and Virginia Woolf [below].

Mrs Dalloway

Clarissa – popularised by Virginia Woolf’s novel ‘Mrs Dalloway’

Names can also give clues about geographical location of families, or a significant event in your ancestor’s life. If they disappear from records, it could be worth following a lead suggested by a name. Isla, for example, is named for the Scottish river Isla [below] and the Scottish island Islay. If this name appears in a previously-thought non-Scottish family, it could be worth searching records north of the border.

Isla River near Keith

Isla – a river near Keith [photo geograph.org.uk]

If you want to know more about the meaning of an ancestor’s first name, try the British Baby Names website which in its ‘Name Data’ tab has lists of names by year based on original records. Another useful site is Nameberry, its Namehunter feature allows you to search for a particular name and read its history.

This post is inspired by an article by Ed Dutton  in the July 2017 issue of ‘Who Do You Think You Are?’ magazine.

If you want to read more about family history research, try these articles:-
Searching the #DeceasedOnline database of #graveyards
Find missing births
Did your relative work in a pub? 

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Understanding your relatives’ #babyname choices #genealogy https://wp.me/paZ3MX-72 via #AdoptionStoriesBlog

#FamilyHistory… was your relative a VAD nurse in the Great War? #nursing

Diaries, notebooks and sketchpads are dynamite for family history researchers as an insight into the lives of an ordinary people in your period of interest. If you are interested in filling in the life of a relative who served in a VAD [Voluntary Aid Detachment] during World War One, autograph and memory book of Cheltenham VAD nurse Dorothy Unwin may be of interest. Held at The Wilson art gallery and museum, it provides a very personal view of the war.

The book includes photographs of herself, the wards she worked on, soldiers and staff. Most poignant are the comments given to Nurse Unwin by patients.

Some soldiers write only their name, number and the date but some offer more information. Private Clapton of the 1stGloucestershire Regiment was ‘wounded in shoulder’. Percy Bedford of the 14thCanadian Battalion was ‘blown out of trench at Ypres 25 April 1915’. Many messages are of thanks. Patients are pictured playing sports and performing in plays and revenues. It offers a powerful insight into the men who fought in the Great War and also the daily life of FAX nurses.

Vera Brittain, who would go on to write Testament of Youth, was reading English Literature at Somerville College, Oxford when in the summer of 1915 she delayed her degree by a year to volunteer as a VAD nurse.

Initially she worked in Buxton, later in London, Malta and France and spent much of the war as a nurse. Her fiancé Roland Leighton, close friends Victor Richardson and Geoffrey Thurlow, and her brother Edward Brittain were all killed in the war. Their letters to each other are documented in the book Letters from a Lost Generation. In one letter Leighton speaks for his generation of public school volunteers when he writes that he feels the need to play an “active part” in the war.

Search your local archives for similar VAD accounts relating to your local area. Via Discovery at the National Archives, you can also search the journals, memoirs, correspondence and photographs of VAD nurses working in the UK and abroad.

As well as Dorothy Unwin’s autograph and memory book, and local Cheltenham history, The Wilson art gallery and museum in Cheltenham has a First World War archive including propaganda posters, postcards from the frontline, correspondence and possessions of individual people, and albums from local Voluntary Aid Detachment (VAD) hospitals.

The Imperial War Museum has a collection of First World War VAD uniforms, photographs of wards, rest stations in France, VAD hospitals, recruitment posters

If you’re searching for relatives and want to search online safely try the Lost Cousins website, which matches you with other people researching the same ancestors. It’s worth signing up for the Lost Cousins newsletter too.

This post is inspired by an article in the March 2018 issue of Who Do You Think You Are?’ magazine.

If you want to read more about family history research, try these articles:-
Searching the bastardy records #foundlings #orphans
Researching European records
Where to start your #familyhistory search 

WDYTYA the Genealogy Handbook by Dan Waddell

Don’t know where to find the records you need to start investigating your own relatives? Try the Who Do You Think You Are? The Genealogy Handbook by Dan Waddell
BUY

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The memory book of #WW1 Cheltenham nurse Dorothy Unwin #familyhistory https://wp.me/paZ3MX-6T via #AdoptionStoriesBlog

Did your relative work in the #confectionery trade? #FamilyHistory

As a child I remember buying sticks of liquorice root [below] at the chemist and chewing the wood to release the flavour. Pontefract in Yorkshire was the first place where liquorice was mixed with sugar to be eaten as a sweet, a Pontefract Cake [below], as we understand the phrase today. There is no certain date for when liquorice was first grown in the UK, though there are records from the 16thcentury when it was grown in monastic gardens and as a garden crop.

Confectionery became a strand of cookery in its own right in the 17thcentury when sweet confections, made by confectioners, were quite separate from the dinner table. In the late Tudor and early Stuart period, they were served as a separate course. It was a job often done by gentlewomen because of the association then of sugar with medicine. Then in the 18thcentury, sugar became cheaper thanks to the British Empire’s control in sugar plantations – West Indies and the American colonies – and the link between sugar and medicine was broken. Confectioners made anything sugar-based including jellies, ice creams, sweet pastries, set creams and French-style cakes that we know as patisserie.

Sales of confectionery boomed in the Victorian and Edwardian period when it became cheap to set up a workshop, buying or hiring machinery, and sweets were quick to produce.

The roots of boiled sweets are in the 17thand 18thcentury when lozenges, flavoured with herbs and extracts, were sold as cough aids. The line between confectionery and baked goods began to divide and a new definition of confectionery became established. Working with sugar, boiling it to high temperatures, made it hot, physical and sometimes dangerous work. Professional confectionery manual Skuse’s Complete Confectioner concentrated on sweets and toffees made with the new machinery, suitable for small artisan craft makers rather than the home cook. Milk chocolate appeared in the 1870s and filled bars [known as combination bars] were first sold in the 1920s. At this time, many brands familiar today were being established and expanded.

Download free ebooks about confectionery, including Skuse’s Complete Confectioner at Archive.org.

York Castle Museum has a number of exhibits devoted to sweets, including ‘Sweet Memories’ about Terry’s of York; ‘Shackleton’s Cocoa’ about Rowntree’s of York’; and Victorian ice cream making; and an online archive of artefacts including cookery and baking equipment.

Visit a replica Victorian sweet shop, T Cook’s, at the Black Country Living Museum. Mr Thomas Cook, confectioner, and his son made the sweets, his son’s wife and their children ran the shop.

Try making your own period confectionery at Beamish, the Living Museum of the North, including cinder toffee and coconut delights.

If you’re searching for relatives and want to search online safely try the Lost Cousins website, which matches you with other people researching the same ancestors.

This post is inspired by an article written by food historian Dr Annie Gray in the August 2017 issue of Who Do You Think You Are?’ magazine.

For more articles about researching family records, try:-
How to use British trade directories
Films bring history to life
Did your relative belong to a #tradeunion 

Annie Gray

 

Read more about confectionery in The Greedy Queen by Annie Gray BUY

 

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Jelly Babies, Love Hearts, Black Jacks… did your relative work in the confectionery trade? #familyhistory https://wp.me/paZ3MX-6I via #AdoptionStoriesBlog

How to use British trade directories #researching #familyhistory

The earliest known trade directory was probably a list of merchants in London published by Samuel Lee in 1677. The Little London Directory [below], searchable online at Archive.org, has ‘A collection of the names of the merchants living in and about the City of London. Very useful and necessary’. Merchants mentioned include Theodore Trotle whose address is listed as ‘near Fishmongers Hall, Thames Street’, and Anthony Depremont, of Austin Friars. Directories are a glimpse into another world, offering a chance to locate a relative and learn more about a specific trade. More recently, paper directories switched online and are still relevant for today’s workforce.

The Little London Directory of 1677

The Little London Directory of 1677

The directory business blossomed in the 18thcentury when trade directories were joined by local town guides and tourist guides, all useful sources of information for family history researchers whether looking for specific people, local history or background information about lifestyle at a particular period in time. With the Industrial Revolution, these directories became more professional, covering whole counties and included advertisements.

Kelly's Directory of Bexhill 1966

Kelly’s Directory of Bexhill 1966

Trade specific directories also started to appear and publishers updated the information every few years. Information included businessmen and their addresses, businesses listed by category, maps and classified listings. In 1836, Frederic Kelly bought the Post Office London Directory from the Post Office and went on to publish county titles, paying researchers to visit street and update information. Kelly’s Directories [above] continued publishing into the 20thcentury [below]. Read more about Kelly’s at The Genealogist [below].

Trade directories

Assorted directories [photo: thegenealogist.co.uk]

With the coming of the telephone, specialist directories soon appeared listing phone numbers. The national archive of British Telecom directories is held at the Holborn Telephone Exchange in London while Ancestry has digitised directories from 1880 to 1984.

To trace all trade and telephone directories, try the British Library, the National Library of Scotland, the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland, as well as your local library and county archives.

This post is inspired by an article in the December 2018 issue of Who Do You Think You Are?’ magazine.

For more articles about researching family records, try:-
Genetic map ‘People of the British Isles’
Researching European records
Did your relative train as an apprentice? 

WDYTYA the Genealogy Handbook by Dan Waddell

 

Don’t know where to start investigating your own family history? Try the Who Do You Think You Are? The Genealogy Handbook by Dan Waddell.
BUY THE BOOK

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
How to use British trade directories #researching #familyhistory https://wp.me/paZ3MX-6B via #AdoptionStoriesBlog

Searching the bastardy records #foundlings #orphans

Trawling through records is difficult enough, but when you are trying to trace an illegitimate relative it can become disheartening. But now more bastardy records are available to search online.

Family tree

[illustration: @SandraDanby]

With the introduction of civil registration of births in 1837, the birth certificates of illegitimate children usually show only the name of the mother, who is the informant, though the name of the father may sometimes appear. From 1875 the registrar could not enter the name of the father, unless at the joint request of the father and mother, when the father also signed the register. When an illegitimate child marries it may leave blank the space for its father’s name, but it may then reveal the truth, if it has been learned in the meantime.To complicate things further for modern day searchers, it was all too easy to register the birth of an illegitimate child as though it were legitimate by inventing the name of a father. A woman may have invented a man with the same surname as herself (so that she is “Smith formerly Smith”) and given him her own father’s forename. A birth registered late by a woman may indicate that the child was illegitimate, particularly if a marriage cannot be found or if her husband’s surname is the same as her own.

More than 14,000 bastardy records held by the West Yorkshire Archive Service have been indexed and made available online at Ancestry. The records start from 1690 up to 1914 with documents including the maintenance of illegitimate children, bastardy bonds, and warrants for apprehending errant fathers who tried to escape responsibility for their children.

For more articles about researching family records, try:-
Find missing births
The #paternity question
Where to start your #familyhistory search 

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
How to find an illegitimate ancestor #familyhistory https://wp.me/paZ3MX-6y via #AdoptionStoriesBlog