Category Archives: Researching your family history

Was your relative a #doctor #researching #familyhistory

The medical profession has changed out of all recognition since the 18th century and if you are searching for a relative who was once a doctor or medical professional, there are a number of useful sources to check which may lead you in an intriguing direction.

In the 18thcentury, only physicians were called MD, doctor, with the status of being a gentleman. They charged for their advice and remedies but did not dispense medicines. They were university educated in contrast to surgeons and apothecaries who were trained via apprenticeships. Surgeons did not give medicines to patients, instead they specialised in pulling teeth, lancing boils, blood-letting, and amputations. Apothecaries dispensed and sold medicines from a shop, charging for their medicines not their advice. There was ample opportunity for quacks. The turning point came with the passing of the Medical Act in 1858. This meant that in able to practise medicine, all qualified medical professions had to be listed in the new Medical Register, and also licensed by one of 19 licensing bodies.

If you are tracing a relative in the 19thcentury who you suspect worked in the medical professions in the UK, the two places to check are the Medical Register, from 1859, and the Medical Directory, from 1846. Both list full name, address and date qualifications attained, but include different additional information. It is worth checking both. The Medical Register was published by the General Medical Council and all practising medical professionals had to be registered in it.  It states where each individual was registered. The Medical Directory was a non-compulsory commercial enterprise that is a useful source as it provides different information from the Medical Register, including additional posts held, lists of previous posts, and papers written for medical journals. However it was up to the individual to keep the entries on both directories updated, so be wary of misleading information. The Medical Register and the Medical Directory can be viewed in large city libraries and specialist archives such as the Wellcome Library. Selected records are also available online at Ancestry, The Genealogist and Family Relatives. Some editions can be viewed free on the Internet Archive.

If your ancestor was an army surgeon, check the Army List [from 1754] and Hart’s Army List [1839-1915] at the Internet Archive or Google Books. Read more about your medical ancestor’s service record at The National Archives. For naval surgeons, check the Navy List [from 1782] and the New Navy List [1841-1856], available at large reference libraries. Some editions are free online at the Internet Archive or Google Books.

If your ancestor worked in a hospital, check the staff records at the Hospital Records Database at The National Archives, and for Scotland look at Clinical Notes.

The Lancet

The Lancet, issue dated July 6 1872

British Medical Journal

British Medical Journal, issue dated October 30 1948

If your ancestor was a GP, try your local newspapers or at the British Newspaper Archive for mentions in obituaries, letters to the editor, inquests. Specialist medical journals are also worth checking for articles or letters written by your relative, obituaries or appointments. Search the British Medical Journal archive, back copies of The Lancet are held at the Wellcome Library.

If you know where your relative trained, trace the location of the medical college records by searching Discovery at The National Archives, or for Scotland check the Scottish Archive Network.

Elizabeth Garrett Anderson

Elizabeth Garrett Anderson, 1900 portrait by John Singer Sargent

Apothecaries Hall

Apothecaries Hall, entrance on Blackfriars Lane EC4

For information about apothecaries, check The Worshipful Society of Apothecaries. Elizabeth Garrett Anderson [above], for example, was the first woman to gain a medical qualification in Britain. She created a medical school for women, having herself studied privately with physicians, finally obtaining her medical credentials via a loophole with the Society of Apothecaries.

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

If you want to read more about family history research, try these articles:-
Using photographic archives
Understanding your relatives’ #babyname choices
Was your relative an apothecary 

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Was your ancestor a #doctor #familyhistory https://wp.me/paZ3MX-82 via #AdoptionStoriesBlog

Using photographic archives #researching #familyhistory

Photographs are not just a record of people but of places, lifestyles, streets, countryside and the changing times. If you really want to understand the life of your relative, searching the photographic archives now available online and at your local records office can make their world seem real for you. The clothes they wore, their holidays and work days, their parties and local community.

Police helmet 1840

Police helmet 1840

A simple way to start is to use Google and search using ‘images’. Other great starting places are Flickr, Pinterest or Instagram. As part of my research of London during the WW2 Blitz for my third novel, I experimented with a quick search that produced literally hundreds of photos. See my eclectic collection of Pinterest pages including World War Two, Pablo Picasso, Adoption Reunion, Book Reviews, Yorkshire, Interiors, The Sea, Tennis and Trees. One photo may lead to a new avenue of research. A studio portrait of a family member may lead you to a particular photographer. A uniform can help you to confirm a regiment or employer. History Pin is clever in that it allows you to collect images and pin them to Street View so you build up a wider picture of the area of interest.

I found Collage, the London Picture Archive, particularly useful in my focus on the capital. It has more than a quarter of a million photos of London streets and includes the London County Council’s own photographic archive. Photos can be viewed in themed galleries such as ‘Victorian London’, ‘London Fire Brigade 1866-2016’ and ‘LCC Tramway Posters’.

Not all archives focus on places. One specialist archive that I find fascinating is the National Portrait Gallery’s Heinz Archive and Library. It holds 250,000 original photographic images from the 1840s to the present day including works by many famous photographers. The collection is currently being digitised, but the study room is open to researchers by appointment. This is the place to look if your relative ever sat for a portrait.

Another is the Library of Birmingham’s Collections website which includes a wide selection of images ranging from the Parker family’s collection of books, dating from 1538 to the present day; to ‘Fashion Plates 1771-1901’ [below]. The various datelines of the fashion sections enables the identification of clothing, worn by a relative in a photo, and connection to a particular time when it was most popular.

There are many good regional photographic archives, including Picture Norfolk with 20,000 images held by libraries across the county; West Sussex Past Pictures; Picture Oxon; Red Rose Collections has photos of Lancashire including FLOAT, the Fleetwood Online Archive of Trawlers [above] and the Police Index from 1840 [top]. The regional photographic archives are too numerous to mention; simply search for ‘county’ plus ‘photographic archive’.

Yorkshire Film Archive

Yorkshire Film Archive – NEFA industry montage

A quick search for my home county of Yorkshire [above] produced:-
The Yorkshire Film Archive;
Leodis, a photographic archive of Leeds;
West Yorkshire Archive Service;
The Yorkshire Dales Photographic Grid Project;
North Yorkshire County Council Record Office;
Bradford Museums and Galleries photographic archive;
Historic England’s early photographic print collection;
The East Riding archives.

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

If you want to read more about family history research, try these articles:-
Using the 1939 Register
Researching children’s homes
Find missing births 

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Using photographic archives #familyhistory https://wp.me/paZ3MX-7U via #AdoptionStoriesBlog

Using the #1939Register #familyhistory

The obvious place to start when researching previous generations of your family is the Census. Unfortunately, the UK’s 1931 Census was destroyed by fire during World War Two, and no Census was taken in 1941. But in 1938 the British Government announced a National Register would be taken to assess war needs and to issue identity cards. The records of 41 million citizens were taken. These records are now available at Find My Past.

The 1939 register

The 1939 register [photo: Find My Past]

The information gathered in the 1939 Register was not only used for war planning but was also used after the war in the founding of the National Health Service. Forms were issued to 41 million people. Enumerators visited every household in Great Britain and Northern Ireland to collect the names, addresses, marital statuses and other key details of every civilian in the country. Identity cards were issued on the spot. It was a legal requirement to carry an identity card from this time until 1952.

If the person you are searching for is not listed in the Register, it is likely they were already serving in the military. You can search military records at the National Archives which has a number of research guides about finding members of the Armed Forces.

This post was inspired by Laura Berry’s article ‘Missing from the Census’ in the April 2016 issue of the UK’s Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine.

For more articles about researching family records, try:-
Was your relative a VAD nurse in the Great War?
Where to start your #familyhistory search
Genetic map ‘People of the British Isles’ 

Sandra Danby

 

I used the 1939 Register when I was writing Sweet Joy, the third adventure in the ‘Identity Detective’ series. Watch the book trailer.

Start reading the ‘Identity Detective’ series of #adoptionreunion mysteries with Ignoring Gravity.

★★★★★ “I devoured the book in one go, unable to put it down despite the tirade of emotions it brought to the surface”
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:
How to search for records using the 1939 Register #familyhistory https://wp.me/paZ3MX-7Q via #AdoptionStoriesBlog

Surname research #adoptionreunion #familyhistory

Do you know anyone with the same surname as you? I have only ever met one other Danby, so I was curious to explore the roots of my name.

Danby village

Map showing Danby village [photo: Wikipedia]

As an experiment, search on Google for your surname. I did, and these were the top five entries:-
Danby, a village in North Yorkshire, 44 miles from where I grew up;
A tourist guide to the village of Danby;
Plumbing and heating engineer, B Danbys. Based in Hull, 38 miles from where I grew up;
The Duke of Wellington pub in the village of Danby, North Yorkshire;
… and local community website Esk Valley, where the village of Danby is located on the North Yorkshire Moors.

Danby village

Danby village [photo: dukeofwellingtondanby.co.uk]

So, my surname is anchored in Yorkshire. This is a light-hearted search, my next stage is to investigate the surname resources online. If you are researching your surname, try these websites. The members of The Surname Society, experienced genealogists, study single surnames in depth, collecting detailed information on a global basis.

The Guild of One-Name Studies is a group of family historians who compile surname studies, which seek all occurrences, past and present, of a single surname, anywhere in the world.

The Internet Surname Database is an online database of surnames and their variant spellings, the country of origin, the original word from which the surname may have originally derived, interesting historical examples, and earliest proven records.

For a list of all one-name studies and databases, start with UK BMD.

Select Surname List is a simple, easy to use reference for more than 800 common surnames, their derivation and regional, UK, European and global meanings.

Out of curiosity, I Googled Rose’s surname – Haldane – from Ignoring Gravity. Here are the top three entries of almost 2.9million results including:-
Architectural joinery company Haldane UK;
the Wikipedia entry for JBS Haldane, a British naturalised Indian scientist;
and another Wikipedia entry, for Richard Haldane, 1stViscount Haldane [below].
A simple demonstration of the wealth of information available, which is be at once a plus and a minus for researchers. The data may include a clue, an answer, or may become a major distraction with multiple dead ends.

Richard Haldane, 1st Viscount Haldane

Portrait of Richard Haldane, 1st Viscount Haldane [photo: Wikipedia]

For more articles about researching family records, try:-
The reality of #adoptionreunion
Further information #Adoption #AdoptionReunion #HelpfulLinks
Check your local records 

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:
Researching your surname #adoption reunion #familyhistory https://wp.me/paZ3MX-7J via #AdoptionStoriesBlog

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