#FamilyHistory #Mystery ‘Bloodline’ by @FionaMountain

This is a combination of genealogical mystery, murder investigation and historical examination of the Nazis. Bloodline by Fiona Mountain, the second Natasha Blake mystery, covers a lot of ground from its seemingly innocuous starting point when Natasha hands in her report to a client. But nothing is mentioned lightly in this book, everything has a meaning. Natasha is not sure why Charles Seagrove requested this particular family tree, but knows he is unrelated to any of the people featured. Fiona Mountain

The real reason for Seagrove’s interest in genealogy is at the heart of this storyline. There are many dead ends and I admit to losing track of who was who at one point but Mountain ties all the loose endings together so there is clarity at the end. At first, Natasha is simply conducting another genealogical research but everything changes when she receives an anonymous note, ‘Cinderella is in the bluebell woods at Poacher’s Dell’. Once her client is murdered with his own shotgun, Natasha feels threatened as well as puzzled.

There are many storylines to be connected including Charles Seagrove’s grand-daughter Rosa and her father Richard, Second World War land girls, and two soldiers – one German, one English – who meet in the trenches during the Christmas truce of 1914. This is a lot to handle but Mountain manages the complicated history with ease and I enjoyed trying to work out the solution.
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Read my review of Pale as the Dead, the first Natasha Blake book.

If you like this genealogy mystery, try:-
File Under Family’ by Geraldine Wall
The Ghost of Lily Painter’ by Caitlin Davies
The Seven Sisters’ by Lucinda Riley 

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
BLOODLINE by @FionaMountain #FamilyHistory #Mystery https://wp.me/paZ3MX-6c via #AdoptionStoriesBlog

How #adoption became a legal process #UK

Only in 1926 did adoption of children in England and Wales become a legal process, it was part of a process to remove illegitimate children from their ‘unfit’ mothers and place them with a respectable married couple. Until the 1926 Adoption of Children Act, adoptions were often arranged privately or via the mother-and baby-home where the birth took place.

Falloden Nursing Home

The Falloden Nursing Home [photo: motherandbabyhomes.com]

In the 19th century there were hundreds of mother-and-baby homes where an unmarried pregnant woman would be housed and her pregnancy and birth overseen. She would remain with her baby during the early weeks while an adoption was arranged. Many women attended these homes secretly to avoid the stigma of bearing an illegitimate child. As an alternative to adoption, some single mothers left their child in the care of baby farmers who would care for the child for a fee, supposedly enabling the mother to return to work. However some baby farmers were found guilty of abuse and neglect.

Prior to the 1926 Adoption of Children Act, ten bills had been introduced to Parliament by 1922 in an effort to regulate adoption. Finally the act became law on January 1, 1927. It provided assurance for the adoptive parents that the birth parents could not demand their child be returned. The court making the adoption order had to make sure that the birth parents understood the implications of what they were doing. The Act also cut out the practice of baby farming, as the exchange of money for an adoption was illegal unless sanctioned by the court. At this time the Adopted Children Register was established. This can be consulted at The General Register Office.

For more information about mother-and-baby homes, check these two websites: Mother and Baby Homes, and Children’s Homes.

The Adoption Act of 1976 was another piece of legislation affecting the adoption process. Prior to this it had been assumed that adoption was final and there would be no reunion between the respective parties. The Act altered this and gave individuals adopted after 11 November, 1975 the right to access their birth records after reaching the age of eighteen. Those adopted before that date could also seek their birth records provided that they saw a counsellor beforehand.

Adoption was finally legalised in Scotland in 1930 with The Adoption of Children (Scotland) Act, 1930. Advice on tracing Scottish adoption records can be found on the National Archives of Scotland website and Northern Ireland records are kept at the General Register Office for Northern Ireland (GRONI).

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:-
The #paternity question
Films bring history to life
Check your local records

Sandra Danby

 

When Rose Haldane starts to research the story of her own adoption in Ignoring Gravity, the private nature of her adoption means available records are minimal, so she applies to see a counsellor. First in the ‘Identity Detective’ series. BUY

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A fictional #orphan… Jane Eyre #adoptionstories

Is there a more iconic novel than Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte? Beloved by generations of teenage girls who identify with the eponymous Jane, her suffering, her fortitude and generosity, Jane’s parents died of typhus several years before the story begins. Jane’s story is told in the first person making this a powerful, personal account of an orphan’s life.

Jane Eyre

Mia Wasikowska as Jane Eyre

Jane Eyre

Orson Welles & Joan Fontaine in Jane Eyre

Jane Eyre

The 1970 television film featuring Susannah York and George C Scott

The story
When the novel starts, Jane is 10 and living with her maternal uncle’s family but her uncle has since died. He was the only member of the Reed family who was kind to Jane. Emotionally and physically mistreated by her relatives, Jane’s only comfort is a doll and some books.
She is sent to Lowood Institution, a charity school for girls. Life is harsh here, but she finds friends and role models. Jane makes a friend, Helen Burns, but during an outbreak of tuberculosis, Helen dies. Conditions at the school improve when local benefactors fund a new building and a more sympathetic management style is introduced.
On leaving Lowood, Jane secures a position as governess at Thornfield Hall to the ward of the mysterious Mr Rochester. Here, the normally self-controlled Jane falls in love with her employer. But Rochester’s complicated love life make this difficult.
Unable to live with Mr Rochester without being married, Jane leaves Thornfield Hall. Exhausted and starving after horrendous journey during which she loses her possessions and must sleep rough, she arrives at Moor House, the home of her cousins, clergyman St John Rivers and his sisters Diana and Mary. When St John proposes they marry and travel to India as missionaries, Jane declines. And then she hears to mystical voice of Mr Rochester calling her.
She returns to Thornfield Hall and finds the house in ruins, Mr Rochester is now disabled. They finally are free to marry.
The book was published in 1847.
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Jane EyreThe film
Depending on your age, you will be familiar with at least one film or television adaptation of Bronte’s book. The first was made in 1910 , a silent movie [below] produced by the Thanhouser Company and starring Marie Eline as Jane and Frank H Crane as Mr Rochester. Unfortunately the reel of this is presumed lost.

Jane Eyre

The 1910 Jane Eyre silent, BW film by the Thanhouser Film Corp

The most recent adaptation in 2011 starred Michael Fassbender and Mia Wasikowska. Watch the trailer.
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Jane EyreFamous Janes
Joan Fontaine 1943
Ingrid Bergman 1948
Susannah York 1970
Sorcha Cusack 1973
Charlotte Gainsbourg 1996
Samantha Morton 1997
Ruth Wilson 2006
Mia Wasikowska 2011 [above]

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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

#Genealogy #Mystery ‘Hiding the Past’ by Nathan Dylan Goodwin @NathanDGoodwin 

An unusual hybrid of genealogy and record checking plus amateur detective stuff makes Hiding the Past by Nathan Dylan Goodwin a worthy page turner for a holiday week. Anyone who loves family tree research, and a good crime novel, will like this with its narrative stretching from World War Two to present-day politicians.Nathan Dylan Goodwin

Within days of taking on a new client, genealogist Morton Farrier knows this case is different: one, his client pays a fee of £50,000 straight into his bank account; two, the client shoots himself in the head. Or does he? Helped by his girlfriend Police Community Support Officer Juliette, Farrier studies the background of his, now dead, client, Peter Coldrick, a study which leads him to two key years: 1944 and 1987. Official records for Coldrick’s descendants have mysteriously disappeared, Morton is being followed by a glossy black 4×4, and it may be his imagination but a usually helpful archives officer is proving difficult to pin down.

Morton is an interesting character, adopted, rubbing along awkwardly with his widowed adoptive father and soldier brother, quick with a sharp word whilst knowing he should be kinder and hating himself for it. I also liked the clear drawing of his setting around the Kent & Sussex towns and villages of Sedelscombe, Rye, Tenterden and Lewes, an area I lived in and loved, Goodwin makes them feel real on the page. This is the first of, at the time of writing, four Morton Farrier novels, so expect to read more about Morton’s own adoption story in future books.
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If you like this genealogy mystery, try:-
The Seven Sisters’ by Lucinda Riley
The Storm Sister’ by Lucinda Riley
The Shadow Sister’ by Lucinda Riley 

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
#Genealogy #Mystery HIDING THE PAST by @NathanDGoodwin https://wp.me/paZ3MX-5i via #AdoptionStoriesBlog

True #adoption story… Whitney Casey #adoptionstories

Whitney Casey was adopted at six months old by the Casey family and grew up in Nashville. She never forgot she was Korean American thanks to the subtle reminders that she was different — like the time she went into Kmart and a five-year-old girl pointed to her, saying, “Mom, it’s Mulan.”

Whitney Casey

Lee and Whitney 2014 [photo: Sara Rayman/Whitney Fritz]

‘It was never spiteful or anything, but people would notice that I look different,’ Whitney told NBC News ‘Sometimes you can forget that you look different. Sometimes you’re surprised when you look in the mirror and don’t look like the rest of the family.’

In 2010, Whitney went to work in South Korea near Seoul. She had no intention of tracing her birth parents, but her adoptive family urged her to contact her adoption agency. She describes what followed as an ‘out of body experience’. Told to expect an update in a month’s time, her case worker got in touch 48 hours later and the next day she met the Jeons, her omma (mother) and appa (father). They sat and talked for an hour. Whitney told them about her adoptive family, her siblings, and work. She asked them why they put her up for adoption. There were no tears, Whitney recalls, just relief and gratitude for the time they could spend together. The anxiety and nervousness slowly simmered off as her omma and appa had a heart-to-heart conversation with Whitney about the first few days she was born.

Whitney Casey

Whitney [L] with Appa & Omma & her two brothers [photo: Lee and Whitney Fritz]

Whitney worried that her two birth brothers would struggle to accept her. ‘I didn’t know if they would hate me for coming back and disturbing the peace. I didn’t want to disrupt the boys’ relationship with their parents, and I didn’t want to damage any years they had of them.’ But her fears were unfounded. ‘I went through a coping process, but everything’s fine now,” she said. “I’m so glad that it went smoothly.’

Whitney met her husband Lee at a Korean-American adoption conferene in Albany, New York, in 2012. “I think it’s interesting we have this thing that doesn’t need to be spoken between us that we know sometimes the feelings are hard and things can be complicated, but we can just have an understanding between us,” said Lee.

Whitney Casey

Lee and Whitney [photo: wethelees.wordpress.com]

Read Lee and Whitney’s blog, We The Lees.
Read the full NBC News article about Whitney’s adoption story.

If you like this true story, read:-
Joy Lieberthal Rho
Denise Temple
Jazz Boorman 

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#FamilyHistory #Mystery ‘Deerleap’ by Sarah Walsh

One day Grace Chalk sees her boyfriend standing at the other side of the street. Except Alex is dead. And so starts Deerleap by Sarah Walsh, a combination of love story [Grace and Alex], detective story [is Alex really alive, if so where is he?] and the nature of blame [marriage breakdown] and grief. Walsh has written an assured story, handling the emotional complexities with a gentle touch making the twists and turns even more surprising when they arrive. Sarah Walsh

When the story opens, seven years have passed since the car accident in which Grace’s father and her stepmother Polly were killed, her sister Rita seriously injured, and her boyfriend Alex disappeared. Alex’s body was never found. Rita has never talked about what happened, she is emotionally vulnerable, spiky and prone to hitting her sister. Grace’s mother still resents being deserted by her husband and Grace worries that her anger will turn into depression and suicide. At the centre of the story stands Deerleap, the remote country house where Alex grew up and where Grace visits her father as he sets up his new home with Polly. It all sounds idyllic, except seven years later, Deerleap stands empty awaiting the legal deadline when Alex can be declared legally dead and the house sold. This is the catalyst which sparks this chain of events.

The emotional vulnerability in Grace’s family made me at times question her own reporting of events, we are told the story entirely through her eyes. She is an artist, painting portraits of from her studio in Bristol. She looks into people’s faces and sees the truth. Can she find out the truth of what happened to Alex?

The Somerset countryside sounds marvellous, a stark contrast to the streets of Bristol where Grace’s troubled mother and sister live. The family ties, responsibilities and lies create a web of mystery through which you glimpse the answer. And then there is a twist at the end that I didn’t expect. This is a quiet book which really grew on me. A psychological mystery, rather than a psychological thriller, it explores the nature of grief, depression, guilt and love.
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If you like this genealogy mystery, try:-
File Under Family’ by Geraldine Wall
Pale as the Dead’ by Fiona Mountain
The Marriage Certificate’ by Stephen Molyneux 

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
A #familyhistory #mystery DEERLEAP by Sarah Walsh https://wp.me/paZ3MX-5e 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.
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True #adoption story… Ray Victor Lewis #adoptionstories

Three generations of adoption in one family is unusual. The story starts in 1936 when Ray Victor Lewis’s mother gave him up for adoption. She left with him a small Bible. Inside the front cover, the inscription reads, “Ray of Sunshine, Victorious over all.”

Ray Victor Lewis

Ray Victor Lewis, his daughter Karen and granddaughter [photo: Felix Clay for The Guardian]

Unusually, Ray’s name wasn’t changed even though he was adopted as a baby. Ray always knew he was adopted, that his birth mother couldn’t keep him as she was only 17 when she had him, and that she visited him until he was a toddler. ‘The last letter she wrote was one my [adoptive] mum treasured,’ Ray, 78, tells The Guardian. ‘I think she felt it would help me to have something to explain why my birth mother couldn’t keep me.’

Ray’s adoptive parents were already fostering children, but he was the only child they adopted. He remembers an idyllic childhood in the Kent village where he still lives. He has never traced his birth parents. ‘I never felt the urge to trace my birth mother. I wouldn’t change a thing about my life and was very close to my mum and dad, so I just didn’t see the point.’

When Ray married Janet in 1968, they decided to adopt a child. ‘It felt the most natural thing in the world – probably more natural than having our own because it was all I’d known.’ They adopted nine-day old Karen.

‘As long as I can remember, Mum and Dad told me I was special and chosen. There was no day where my whole world, as I knew it, changed for ever,” Karen told The Guardian. Karen knew nothing of her birth family and her mother, Janet, told her not to mention her adoption to anyone. ‘She worried that I might be teased and I was quite secretive about it. I still don’t offer it as information to strangers.’ But Karen wanted to know more. When she was 30 she applied for her birth certificate, discovered she had a different birth name, and met her birth mother once.

‘It was in a hotel, where we shared photographs and stories. She didn’t want to meet again and I was okay with that because that one meeting gave me what I needed – answers to what she looked like, what she was like and, most importantly, the reassurance that she was okay.’

When Karen married and IVF failed, it seemed natural for her and her husband to consider adoption. ‘Adoption is the norm in our family so when I didn’t get pregnant, we wasted no time in applying to adopt. In fact, social workers wondered why we hadn’t considered IVF first.’ Her daughter’s story is a little different, ‘Her adoption story is probably the starkest because she wasn’t relinquished, but removed from her birth family due to child protection issues” explains Karen.

The availability of information about the past is key when growing up, Karen says. ‘Details about your past are never easy when you’re adopted, no more so than with today’s adoptions, but it makes such a difference’.

If you like this true story, read:-
Annie from New York 
Amy Seek
Helen Harrison

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#Genealogy #mystery ‘File under Family’ by Geraldine Wall

Anna Ames is a trainee probate genealogist working for Triple H, Harts Heir Hunters, and File under Family is the first in a series of genealogy mysteries about Anna by Geraldine Wall. When Margaret Clark dies Anna is charged with finding her missing heir, daughter Briony. The trail leads abroad and unleashes an international social media campaign, reveals sexual abuse in prison and considers how enthusiasm can conflict with client confidentiality.

Geraldine Wall

Wall introduces the character of Anna and her family life which I am sure will continue to feature throughout the series. While she faces problems balancing work with studying for her Diploma in Genealogy qualification, these are nothing when compared to Anna’s stress at home. Her husband Harry has early-onset dementia so Anna’s father George has moved in to help with caring for Harry and their two teenagers, Ellis and Faye. Faye has a new Russian boyfriend who wants to take her to Russia with him. Ellis is auditioning for a role in the school panto while George is investigating his spiritual side and writing poetry. Worst of all, as Harry’s condition gradually deteriorates he becomes increasing aggressive towards Anna. Into this walks an unattractive stranger.

I found the first couple of chapters disorientating as the story pitches straight into Anna’s day with minimal explanation of her job. But the story settles down and the mystery of Briony’s whereabouts kept me reading. I particularly liked the characters of Margaret’s friends, Joan and Diane, and the importance of Bob the dog in the family dynamics. Anna’s home life is at times a little over-complicated as each family member has their own drama. Anna is a positive character, strongly defending her own family and trying to do her best for her client, albeit crossing the line at times and getting into trouble. This only serves to endear her as a convincing character. However the last quarter of the novel, after Briony’s case is solved, seemed to meander almost as if it was merging straight into book two in the series.

Not so much a genealogical mystery, more a family drama enriched by Anna’s job as a probate genealogist. It made me curious enough to read the next in the series, File under Fear.
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If you like this genealogy mystery, try:-
The Ghost of Lily Painter’ by Caitlin Davies
The Indelible Stain’ by Wendy Percival 
The Marriage Certificate’ by Stephen Molyneux 

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
FILE UNDER FAMILY by Geraldine Wall #genealogy #mystery https://wp.me/paZ3MX-50 via #AdoptionStoriesBlog