Category Archives: Researching your family history

Did your relative work in a pub? #familyhistory #searching

British pubs, or public houses, can be traced all the way back to Roman taverns. If you are tracing a modern relative who works or worked in a pub, the archives can also help.

Becketts Bank

Becketts Bank, Leeds [photo: JD Wetherspoon]

Public houses have changed over the centuries. After the departure of the Romans, there came the Anglo-Saxon alehouses based in domestic dwelling. The ‘alewife’ would put a green bush up on a pole to let people know her brew was ready for drinking. These alehouses rapidly developed into popular meeting places for the community so in 965 King Edgar decreed there should be no more than one alehouse per village. In 1393, Richard II made it legal for pubs to have to display a sign outdoors to make them easily identifiable to passers-by. Then in the 19thcentury came the development of tied houses [when a pub is linked to a particular brewer].

The pub is different from the inn, in that the latter was located along a highway or in the country [above] and provided stabling and fodder for horses, accommodation for travellers, and [if on a mail route] fresh horses for the mail coaches. Inns tended to be larger and grander than pubs. Many pub names date from times when customers were often illiterate and could only recognise pictorial signs. Pub names have a variety of origins, from objects used as simple identification marks to the coats of arms of kings or local aristocrats and landowners. Other names come from historic events, livery companies, and occupations or craftsmen’s guilds. Traditional English ale was made solely from fermented malt. The adding of hops to produce beer was introduced from the Netherlands in the early 15th century. Alehouses would each brew their own distinctive ale, but independent breweries began to appear in the late 17th century. By the end of the century, almost all beer was brewed by commercial breweries.

The Campaign for Real Ale [CAMRA] website has a ‘What Pub?’ search facility allowing you to search by town or postcode. If you know the place of birth for a relative or a later presence in the records such as place of marriage, the CAMRA website might be the best place to start. Most pubs have their own websites including local history and the date they started trading. My own local dates from the 15thcentury, it became a public house in the 18thcentury when it was bought from its private owner.

The George

The George, Southwark, London

The GenGuide has records of publicans and brewers, and a long list of useful websites and archives related to pubs and inns. The George Inn [above], in Southwark, London, was established in medieval times and is the only surviving example of a galleried coaching inn.

Read this useful article by the Pub History Society about tracing people who worked in pubs.

Once the name of your relative’s pub is confirmed, you can then search local records, either in the Country Records Office or The National Archives. Landlords with a ‘full’ license had to renew annually. Court reports and local newspapers can also yield information about public houses, particularly breaches of licensing regulations [drinking after hours] and people misbehaving after too much alcohol. Advertisements in local newspapers may also yield information and images. Many of the JD Wetherspoon pubs are located in restored historic pubs, many featured at the company’s website.

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

For more articles about researching family records, try:-
20 top tips to find your missing family
Finding your nonconformist relative
How History Pin puts your #familytree research on a map 

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Did your relative work in a pub? #familyhistory #searching https://wp.me/paZ3MX-5X via #AdoptionStoriesBlog

How History Pin puts your #adoptionreunion research on a map

HistoryPin is a great idea. A global project which enables you to attach photographs and memories to a global map. A fantastic resource for family researchers or novelists, like me. Like Pinterest, but specifically for places.

History Pin

There are some fascinating subjects which I will re-visit for research; I particularly liked ‘Remember How We Used To…’ Photographs of how we kept warm, played, worked, cooked and cleaned, celebrated and worked. Another useful function is searching by location. Ignoring Gravity is set around Wimbledon, Richmond [below], London Docklands and Battersea. Searching Wimbledon brings up a photo of the Blitz in 1941, the Wimbledon Tennis Championships in 1962, a street party in Putney in 1989, and carriage cleaners at Wimbledon Traincare Depot in 1916. A search for Battersea is less populated, though there is a great black and white photograph of a boy and girl – siblings perhaps – standing outside a house on Winstanley Road in 1951-3.

In conclusion, this is a work in progress and geographical coverage is not consistent. But it is worth consulting if you are researching a specific location. All uploaded photographs are pinned to a specific place, and are shown on a street map so it is easy to find other entries. Photographs are uploaded by individuals and organizations so there is a wonderful mixture of family snaps and professional.

This post was inspired by the article ’50 family history websites to watch in 2015’ in the January 2015 issue of the UK’s Who Do You Think You Are? magazine.

For more articles about researching family records, try:-
The paternity question
Films bring history to life
Did your relative train as an apprentice? 

Identity Detective seriesI have used History Pin while researching Ignoring Gravity and Connectedness, the first two books in the ‘Identity Detective’ series of adoption mysteries, and I’m using it again while writing the third book, Sweet Joy. This time I’m plotting London during the Blitz and how a baby was abandoned in a bombed house.
BUY THE BOOK

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
How History Pin puts your #adoptionreunion research on a map https://wp.me/paZ3MX-56 via #AdoptionStoriesBlog

Finding your nonconformist relative #familytree #research

If your ancestor was a nonconformist and belonged to a church, there are numerous records for you to search. Nonconformity is the term for all non-Anglican protestant denominations such as Baptists, Methodists, Quakers and Presbyterians.

Nonconformists

Farewell Sermons preached by nonconformist ministers ejected from their parishes in 1662

In English church history, a nonconformist was a protestant Christian who did not conform to the governance and usages of the Church of England. Broad use of the term was precipitated after the Restoration of the British monarchy in 1660 when the Act of Uniformity 1662 re-established the opponents of reform within the Church of England. This term specifically came to include the Reformed Christians such as the Presbyterians, Congregationalists, Calvinists, plus the Baptists, Methodists and Puritans. The Methodist Revival began as a movement within the Church of England in the 18thcentury, led by John Wesley [below]. It originated as a weekly club at the University of Oxford where the club’s members lived a ‘holy life’. Ridiculed as ‘Methodist’ by fellow students because of the way they used ‘rule’ and ‘method’ to go about their religious affairs, Wesley adopted the name.

John Wesley

John Wesley

By law and social custom, nonconformists were restricted from many parts of public life including access to public office, civil service careers and degrees at university. A good place to start is an online reader’s guide at the National Archives [TNA].

At BMD Registers the TNA also has birth, marriage and death records, for the nonconformist registers, available online.

Here are some other links to get you started:-
Baptists
Baptist Historical Society

Methodists
Methodist Heritage
My Methodist History
My Primitive Methodist Ancestors
My Wesleyan Methodist Ancestors

Quakers
The Society of Friends
Quaker collection at the Leeds University Library

Welsh Nonconformists
Welsh Chapels

Each of these websites is rich in information with further links to other archives.

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:-
Researching European records
Did your relative train as an apprentice?
Commonwealth War #Graves Commission

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Finding your nonconformist relative #familytree #research https://wp.me/paZ3MX-4V via #AdoptionStoriesBlog

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

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

Commonwealth War #Graves Commission #familyhistory

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission was set up under Royal Charter in 1917 as the Imperial War Graves Commission. It commemorates 1.7 million people who died in two world wars, administers cemeteries and memorials at 23,000 locations in 154 countries. Anyone searching for their extended birth family may find themselves visiting this impressive database.

War cemetery

War cemetery [photo: cwgc.org]

If you are tracing a relative who died in the First or Second World War, or seeking further information about medals, awards or casualty details, this is an excellent website to explore.

Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Driver Thomas Dawson [photo: cwgc.org]

It is never too late to change the records, if your family history research reveals an error or omission. In once case, a serviceman who died 99 years ago recently received a CWGC headstone at a churchyard in Hampshire. Driver Thomas Dawson [above] died on September 10, 1918 but because the CWGC was never informed of his death, Thomas never received a Commission headstone. His case was brought to the attention of the CWGC by his family and Thomas’s grand-daughter Kay Davidge was present at the installation of the headstone.

The CWCG’s Instagram page is a useful source of wartime photographs which may add background detail to your research.

This post is inspired by an article in the January 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 

Identity Detective series
World War Two is the research focus for my next novel, Sweet Joy. Third in the ‘Identity Detective’ series, which starts with Ignoring Gravity, Sweet Joy tells the story of a wartime love affair.
BUY
Watch the book trailer for the ‘Identity Detective’ series.

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
War graves: where to look #WW1 #WW2 #familyhistory https://wp.me/paZ3MX-4k via #AdoptionStoriesBlog

Films bring history to life #researching your #family #history

Film archives are a great boon for family history researchers, as they shine a lens onto life as it was lived in a dusty daily glory. There are many gems, from the Mitchell & Kenyon archive at the British Film Institute with hundreds of short films made in Edwardian England, to the Imperial War Museum’s film archive of war-related footage [below].

The best place to start is with the ‘Britain on Film’ project [above] at the BFI National Archive which is easy to search by region, date and subject. From here you can expand to regional film archives of which there are many including the Yorkshire Film Archive, the East Anglian Film Archive and the North West Film Archive.

For images of Ireland, Scotland and Wales, try the Irish Film Institute which includes documentaries, news reels and Irish culture; the National Library of Scotland Moving Image Archive with 1900 clips about Scotland; films at Northern Ireland Screen include rural life, true stories, and footage lost and found; and National Screen & Sound Archive of Wales has many films about mining.

To add colour to your understanding of your ancestor’s life, watch newsreels dating from 1910 to the 1970s at British Pathé Newsreels. The film collection at the British Council comprises 120 short films dating from the 1940s which focus on aspects of British life including work, entertainment, culture and sport.

Finally, search your loft and ask your relatives if there are any old home movies which have been forgotten. Home movies date back to the 1920s. Also, many regional film archives hold home movie collections so try searching for the name of a local Cine Club [which started in the 1930s] or a local event such as a fair or festival.

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

For more articles about researching family records, try:-
Did your relative belong to a #tradeunion
Where to start your #adoptionreunion search
Check your local records 

Identity Detective seriesRose Haldane, the identity detective in Ignoring Gravity, was born in 1968 so The Sixties was a key period for my research. Most useful were the newsreels and documentaries at British Pathé Newsreels where you can search by subject and use the nifty adjustable dateline to focus on the year you need.
BUY

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Films bring history to life #researching your #family #history https://wp.me/paZ3MX-48 via #AdoptionStoriesBlog