Tag Archives: genealogy

A #genealogy #mystery ‘Blood-Tied’ by Wendy Percival @wendy_percival

A mysterious beginning with an invalid, threatened by a stranger. Just who is this woman and what is her connection to Esme Quentin? BloodTied by Wendy Percival is the first of the Esme Quentin series of genealogical mysteries.

Esme’s older sister Elizabeth is attacked and in hospital in a coma. Why was she in a town forty miles from home? Did she fall, or was she pushed? And who are the two people in photographs hidden in Elizabeth’s treasured locket? At the start of this story, Esme knows who her family is but once she starts to dig into Elizabeth’s odd accident/attack she uncovers a complicated family history that had me confused at times. This genealogical mystery involves a long-ago family argument, a derelict canal and a feisty elderly lady in a residential home. Esme is a bit like a dog with a bone, she won’t give up despite getting the jitters in the dark of the night.

Two things would have made my reading experience easier. Esme’s history – scar, widow, background as investigative journalist – was thinly drawn so it felt as if I was reading part two of a two-book series. The family twists and turns were such that I was often lost, perhaps because so much was told as Esme discovered paperwork, rather than seeing the action on the page by the characters concerned. That said, the menace builds nicely though I read to the end to find out what happened to Polly, the feisty lady.
BUY

If you like this genealogy mystery, try:-
‘The Blood Detective’ by Dan Waddell
The Seven Sisters’ by Lucinda Riley
‘The Storm Sister’ by Lucinda Riley 

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
BLOOD-TIED by @wendy_percival #genealogy #mystery https://wp.me/paZ3MX-38 via #AdoptionStoriesBlog

20 top tips to find your missing family #familyhistory #research

You’ve decided to trace your family tree, back through the generations. Easy, it’s just a case of trawling through the Birth, Marriages and Deaths records, right? Sadly it’s not always that straightforward… but there are ways to track down missing ancestors. These are the 20 Top Tips by Who Do You Think You Are?’s TV show genealogist Laura Berry. If you have a family member who is missing from official records, there are numerous possible reasons for their absence. These tips are useful whether you are searching for a relative who died a century ago, or more recently.

[photo: nationalarchives.gov.uk]

1 Ancestors may have used middle names. I don’t have a middle name but Adeline V Stephen, who was christened in 1882, was known by her second name Virginia. She became the writer Virginia Woolf.

2 Check the mother’s maiden name, not everyone was born in wedlock.

3 If you are really stuck, you can post a question on a genealogy forum such as the WDYTYA Forum. Often other forum users may be able to help.

4 Perhaps your ancestor simply moved. Try searching in a neighbouring area.

5 Names were often misspelt, and the mistake is continued down the line.

6 If you are drawing a blank at your favourite genealogy website, try using a different website which may have a slightly different interpretation of the indexing. And don’t overlook paper records.

7 Check overseas indexes. People more around more than you think.

8 Check Local Register Offices, the primary records are kept here and may contain less errors.

9 Focus on the ancestor’s occupation. For example at the The Genealogist’s website it is possible to make census searches by profession making it easier to find someone whose surname has been wrongly noted.

10 Search the Poor Law records. Could your ancestor have disappeared because he/she is in the workhouse [below] on the night the census was taken?

[photo: workhouses.org.uk]

11 Try Parish Registers for baptisms and burials. They are not quite as detailed, but you may find a record that is missing from the indexes. It wasn’t compulsory to register a child’s birth until 1874.

12 You might not find your relatives in the local Parish records, even though the family was Protestant. Instead look at records for more than one denomination.

13 The forces. Men stationed abroad are not included in UK censuses prior to 1911, except the navy. Some men took their family abroad with them, so you may find everyone missing.

14 Look at old maps. Read more here about how I used maps to research the settings for Ignoring Gravity.

15 Search for a will. The national Probate Calendar was compiled from 1858 onwards. It includes the deceased’s occupation, address, next of kin and executors of the will.

16 Consider that your relative may have changed name. You could change your name without making an official declaration, as long as your intentions weren’t fraudulent. But some people changed their name by Deed Poll. Some records are held at the National Archives in Kew, name changes after 1914 were recorded in the London Gazette.

18 Try the online Discovery catalogue at the National Archives at Kew.

19 Read the newspapers. Not just obituaries and the Birth and Death announcements, but also news stories. Read them online at the British Newspaper Archive and Find My Past.

Lady Penrhyn convict ship [photo: Wikipedia]

20 Was your relative a convict? Possibly in prison [prisoners were noted on census returns by their initials] or possibly transported by ship [above] to Australia. Records at the National Archives, Kew.

If you liked this summary of Laura Berry’s feature, check out Who Do You Think You Are?’ magazine for more help. I read it every month.

For more articles about researching family records, try:-
Searching British newspaper archives
Genetic map ‘People of the British Isles’
Searching the #DeceasedOnline database of #graveyards 

Sandra Danby

 

Watch this interview with Sandra Danby in which she talks about the inspiration for writing identity detective novel Ignoring Gravity, and her curiosity about how family affects our identity. BUY

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Going back to the Family Records Centre #researching #adoptionrecords

Passage of time was one of the issues I faced when writing Ignoring Gravity, first in the ‘Identity Detective’ series of adoption reunion mysteries. In the time it too me to write the book, technology was revolutionised; ten long years, during which paper archives went digital, census and registry records became available online. The first draft of the book saw Rose making a trip to Myddelton Street, North London to visit the Family Records Centre in order to get a copy of her original birth certificate. I went too, to research the archive, to follow the process Rose would follow.

Myddelton Street sign - what is history of the name

Myddelton Street sign, what is history of the name [photo @SandraDanby]

When I retraced my steps, knowing the Family Records Centre no longer existed and its records long since gone digital, I found it a sad procedure. I’d liked the old building, the anticipation of the Tube journey, turning the corner, walking up the steps, the loud banging of the archive drawers, the friendly atmosphere of family history researchers poring over huge volumes.

FRC - the steps

Family Records Centre, the steps [photo @SandraDanby]

Recently, with some curiosity, I went back to the very first draft to find my first attempt at the scene where Rose visits the Family Records Centre. You can read it below. The scene was cut as part of my decision to place Rose in the 21stcentury, but on re-reading it I admit to feeling a fondness for paper records. The room, the atmosphere, the company of other people, lent the process a formality, a majesty, a sense of occasion.

It was a disappointing building. For something so momentous as the Family Records Centre, Rose had at the very least expected bay windows, Georgian steps or some sort of coat of arms. This place looked like a run-down comprehensive school. The black railings needed a coat of paint and there was litter on the steps. As she loitered with intent, a young girl pushed out of the heavy wooden doors. She pulled the lapels of her summer mackintosh around her neck in protection against the light breeze which teased loose ends from her low ponytail and flicked them sharply against her pale cheeks. Despite the sun, she behaved as if it was winter. The Girl banged into Rose’s arm as she passed but made no acknowledgement of anyone else’s existence.

Rose took a deep breath and walked in to meet her destiny. It really was like a school. A big sign listed the departments on each floor and a disapproving security guard watched all passers-by in case they made too much noise or ran in the corridors. Rose headed downstairs to the loo, brushed her hair, blagged a 10p coin from a little old lady and stowed her bag in a locker. She checked her hair again, then walked quickly upstairs and adopted the look of someone who knew where they were going: a tactic she used in strange places in order to ward off strangers and muggers. She didn’t know if it worked but it always made her feel better. She hovered outside the tiny bookshop which sold quaint home-made pamphlets on researching your family tree – Find your relatives in Canada; How to research army records; Tracing evacuees displaced during WWII. The cashier stared, gaze unflinching, and Rose rubbed her forehead in case there was a scarlet letter ‘A’ stamped there.

No. Her forehead was clean.

A sign pointed to ‘birth, marriage, death & adoption’ on the ground floor. Strictly speaking the order should reflect life so, ‘birth, adoption, marriage & death’. Or alphabetically it would be ‘adoption, birth, death & marriage’. She walked into the main index room where there was a continuous metallic banging noise as if lots of people were hitting empty petrol drums with pitchforks. Rose was shocked. People should show a bit of respect. This room contained official records of the highs and lows of people’s lives, of celebration and tragedy. Frowning and feeling self-righteous, she looked around to get her bearings.

“Births are on your right, the red books. Straight ahead are marriages, they’re green. Deaths are on the left, black. Adoption, if you want it, is at the back in the yellow books.” A tiny bird-like lady with glasses on a silver chain around her neck smiled, pressed a leaflet into Rose’s tightly clenched palm and waved towards huge metal shelves lined with books. Rose threw the A5 pink sheet into the nearest bin.

Red for birth, that was okay, blood was shed to bring forth new life. Green for marriages made sense too, green fields, new beginning, fresh pastures etc. And black for death was the social norm of mourning. So why were the adoption books jaundiced yellow? Yellow was a cowardly colour, sickly, plants with yellow leaves were past their best. Rose felt like a Cowardly Custard, putting off opening a yellow index book to find out the name of her real father who was too yeller to acknowledge her existence.

“Births are on your right…”, the bird-like lady directed another directionless new arrival.

Rose threaded her way through the shelves and angled viewing benches. There was a sense of business and purpose, a workmanlike industry. Women with shopping bags and businessmen with briefcases walked with purpose on a fleeting visit for a copy of a lost certificate, perhaps needed for a passport application. Others looked settled in for the duration, wandering between shelves, notebook and pen in hand, delving into books and leaving no stone unturned: a community of searchers. Two grey-haired ladies stood comfortably shoulder-to-shoulder, glasses perched on their noses as they leafed through index books. Were they sisters researching their family tree? They looked like siblings and both liked green. One wore a green turtle neck sweater, the other held a padded green jacket. They spent more time whispering to each other than looking at the books. This was a pastime for them, a hobby, an entertainment. Not life-affirming.

Rose meandered through the shelves and took an indirect route to adoption via death but in the end she reached the yellow section. In a tiny corner of the vast room, on a small bookshelf, sat the answer to her birthright. The heavy index books with black webbing handles started from 1927 with a book per year since 1966, around 30 books in all. Compared with the abundance of shelves holding red, black and green books, the yellow representation was under-nourished.

There was no one else within twenty yards of the yellow zone and though no-one seemed the slightest bit interested in what she was doing, Rose felt their implied stigma. By association, just by being there, she was coming out. She was adopted. She didn’t know how much of this was people’s real attitudes absorbed through osmosis, and how much of it was 60s stigma about unmarried mothers which she’d transferred to herself in her efforts to identify with Katherine’s plight.

The journalist in her shrugged and turned to face the task: get the facts and go, that was the objective. Rose hauled the 1968 index book onto the viewing bench and took a deep breath. The much-thumbed yellowing pages were folded and crumpled together.

Her birth certificate wasn’t there. Nobody’s was. There was an endless list of people’s names, dates of birth, entry numbers and volume numbers. For all her prevarication, Rose had expected some information today. A flood of heartburn rose up her windpipe and she tasted milky coffee. She sat on a chair while the sickness passed and worked out what to do next. 

“Everyone’s verry friendly here, aren’t they?” The three newcomers lined up in front of the adoption bookshelves just had to be siblings. Same corn coloured hair, same habit of running hand through said hair, and same height. Two women and one man, all in their twenties and all South African. “I don’t know where to start,” said the man.

“What are you looking for,” asked the bird-like lady who’d magically reappeared at their side like Harry Haller’s muse.

“Our grandfather was born here but then settled in South Africa. We can’t find his name anywhere and we fly back to Johannesburg tomorrow.”

“You need to look at the naturalised records at Kew.”

“Is it far?”

“The other side of London.”

“Oh.” The man’s shoulders sunk in defeat.

“Was he in the army, you could try their records. But I’ll warn you, it’ll take longer than a day to search.”

They nodded their thanks and left. Rose was alone again. She picked up another pink leaflet. To apply for a full certificate from the Adopted Children Register she had to fill in a yellow form. She took one from a wooden holder and started to read. Extra certificates cost £6.50 each. There was a choice of posted, collection or 24 hours. Oh God, more delay. Now that she was there she wanted the pain to be over. Not only could she not see her birth certificate in the index book, she couldn’t take it away today.

Post would take four working days. Did today count as a working day? If it did she might get the certificate on Friday. If it didn’t, it wouldn’t arrive until next Monday. That was a lifetime away. Rose ticked the 24 hours box. Paying an exorbitant £22.50 allowed her to collect it the next day and was the shortest time delay available. She’d just have to skive off work, again. Every minute until tomorrow would seem like sixty minutes instead of sixty seconds. 24 hours was 1,440 minutes or 86,400 seconds.

Rose turned back to the 1968 book and found her birth name ‘Ingram, Alanna’ in the index, added the entry and volume numbers to the yellow form and stood in line at the kiosks. She was the only person clutching a yellow form, the only adopted person there. She handed over a cheque and a copy of the precious form CAS 5/6, the original was safely filed at home. She also ordered a copy of Katherine’s death certificate. Rose had checked the marriage indexes just in case Katherine had married without anyone knowing, and the birth records in case she’d had any more children. But there was nothing.

24 hours to wait. 86,400 seconds. 4pm tomorrow and she would know the name of her birth father.

Getting hold of this certificate was a huge leap forward. There was something special about that bit of paper, seeing the words in black and white. Ink was permanent, a lasting, unarguable confirmation that everything she’d discovered was true. She repeated her mantra: “I am adopted and it’s not my fault”. What made Katherine and Diana do this deal and keep it a secret from everyone for over 33 years?

 “Hello dear. Births are on your right…” Rose exited the entrance where the bird-like lady fluttered from group to group, leaving an information leaflet clasped in each arrivee’s hand as evidence of her fleeting presence. She passed the stern lady at the bookshop and rubbed her forehead: it was still unmarked.

She stood on the top step and took a deep breath of fresh air, her lungs pressing against her ribs in an effort to inflate their parched corners with healing air. With no sense of direction Rose wandered along the road. She examined her hands and they shook gently. Delayed shock + anti-climax = low blood sugar. She needed chocolate. She felt as the emotional effect of the FRC must be writ plain across her face for all to see.

Read here how genealogists and family history researchers of the FRC responded to the announcement of its closure in 2007.

Fbk - IG KU the warm story
BUY ‘IGNORING GRAVITY’

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After it closed: going back to the Family Records Centre #researching #adoptionrecords via #AdoptionStoriesBlog https://wp.me/paZ3MX-1O

Genetic map ‘People of the British Isles’ #DNA #familyhistory

Just think how it would revolutionize family history research if a DNA test could tell us which regions of the UK we are descended from. Now a partnership of 100 DNA experts, Living DNA has compiled a database of results from the 2015 People of the British Isles project which created a genetic map of the UK.

uk - projectbritain.com

[photo: projectbritain.com]

The Living DNA test compares a person’s genetic markers with those from 21 distinct areas of the UK, including Cornwall, Norfolk and North Wales. The results are then displayed on an online platform, where there is the option to identify connections with a further 59 worldwide regions. The results are shown on a map with a guide to how far back each component of genetic material comes from; this gives genealogists the chance to verify the DNA findings with traditional paper-based research.

This post is inspired by an article in the November 2016 issue of ‘Who Do You Think You Are?’ magazine. More details here.

Future novels in the ‘Identity Detective’ series will involve the use of DNA to find a missing relative. My heritage is in Yorkshire, my surname shared with a small Yorkshire village. So would my DNA point me to Yorkshire, or elsewhere? Read here about the village of Danby.

Ignoring Gravity by Sandra Danby In Ignoring Gravity, Rose Haldane is confident about her identity. She pulls the same face as her grandfather when she has to do something she doesn’t want to do, she knows her DNA is the same as his. Except it isn’t: because Rose is adopted and doesn’t know it. First in the ‘Identity Detective’ series. 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:
Genetic map ‘People of the British Isles’ #DNA #familyhistory via #AdoptionStoriesBlog https://wp.me/paZ3MX-1K

Where to start your #familyhistory search #adoptionreunion

People searching for their birth family commonly find themselves researching alongside family historians and genealogists. In the last decade there has been an explosion of interest in the past and where your own family and home fit into 20thand 21st century events. For adoptees this is an intrinsic part of building a picture of the birth family. Piecing together the jigsaw is enriched with information about the place someone lives, their job, the time they lived in, historical events of the time which affected everyone’s lives. There is an immense amount of information easily available online, from official archives to how-to books and websites offering help and support. Some of it is free, some of it is accessible by a small one-off charge, some of the larger databases require subscriptions. It is worth considering joining your local family history society that have membership subscriptions to the biggest commercial archives, but also to network with experienced family historians who understand how to find records.

WSFHS Show Open Day 2019 - photo @SandraDanby

West Surrey Family History Society Open Day 2018 [photo @SandraDanby]

VISIT AN EXHIBITION
Dip your toe into the genealogical waters with a visit to a local event run by your local family history society. Check out the listing at the UK’s Family History Federation. Many have drop-in days for newcomers as well as annual open days and fairs. These are friendly low-key events and are a good opportunity at which to take your first step [above is the Open Day 2018 run by the West Surrey Family History Society].

There are a number of bigger regional and national exhibitions in the UK with a large selection of exhibitors including family history societies, specialist history, archives, family history projects, equipment and software suppliers, fiction and non-fiction.

February
Rootstech, Salt Lake City, USA

April
Family Tree Live, London, UK

June
The Yorkshire Family History Show, York, UK

The Genealogy Show, Birmingham, UK

July
The Family History Show South-West, Bristol, UK

Family History Show at Sandown Park 2018 - photo @SandraDanby

Family History Show at Sandown Park, Esher 2018 [photo @SandraDanby]

August
The London Family History Show, Sandown Park, Esher, UK [above]

October
Rootstech, London, UK

READ A BOOK
Who Do You Think You Are? Encyclopedia of Genealogy: The definitive reference guide to tracing your family history by Dan Waddell BUY
Family History of the Net by Colin Waters BUY
Genealogy: Essential Research Methods by Helen Osborn BUY

BROWSE ONLINE
ANCESTRY.CO.UK UK website, part of the Ancestry.com global network of family history websites. Offers access to 1 billion searchable UK family history records, 9 million searchable records in the global network. Census, fully-indexed birth, marriage and death records, passenger lists, British telephone books, military and parish records. Membership fee. Follow on Twitter @AncestryUK

FAMILYSEARCH.ORG A US non-profit website sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Patrons may access Family Search services and resources free online at FamilySearch.org or through over 4,600 family history centres in 132 countries, including the main Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah. Follow on Twitter @FamilySearch

FIND MY PAST Start your family tree, online, now. Follow on Twitter @findmypast

WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE? THE MAGAZINE Subscribe to the UK magazine here, useful resource for starting to research your family tree. Follow on Twitter @wdytyamagazine

FAMILY TREE UK magazine and website. Follow on Twitter @familytreemaguk

FAMILY TREE MAGAZINE USA family history magazine and website. Follow on Twitter @FamilyTreeMag

YOUR FAMILY TREE UK magazine and website.

FAMILY TREE FOLK Supplier of equipment for research including binders, charts, dividers, storage and magnifiers. Follow on Twitter @FamilyTreeFolk

FIND MY PAST Start building your own family tree, online. Follow on Twitter @findmypast

LOST COUSINS 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.

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Where to start your #familyhistory search #adoptionreunion via #AdoptionStoriesBlog https://wp.me/paZ3MX-1w