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From the Family Tree archives

Family Tree is celebrating its 30th birthday this year! With the November 2014 issue Family Tree will be 30 years old and by some margin the oldest national family history magazine published in Britain. Michael Armstrong, the founder of Family Tree, has been delving into the archives, recalling some of the treasures we’ve published, many of which were sent in by our readers over the years…

Custom House London, 1808

Custom House London, 1808

As far back as 1983, Lord Teviott had moved the second reading of the Public Records (Amendment) Bill.  Its purpose was to transfer to the custody of the Public Record Office (now The National Archives) records of births, marriages and deaths over 100 years old.

It was proposed that the records be microfilmed and that the general public be given direct access to them.  This would put an end to having to order certificates and wait for them to arrive through the post.  In the event however, after the Bill had passed through all its stages in the Lords, and was due for its second reading in the Commons on 13 May 1983, it fell with the dissolution of Parliament.

*Thirty years on and we still have to pay for a certificate, but at least we must be thankful for the fact that we are able to see the indexes online. For the benefit of the younger family historian the form at that time was that we had to travel to St Catherines House in London and search through the heavy tomes a year at a time to find the entry we hoped was right then order a copy of the certificate and wait for it to arrive through the post.  The only alternative was to look in the local county record office, but they held only the records for its own county. 

At Nottingham Town Sessions a man named Mann was sentenced to 14 years transportation to Australia, just for stealing a pair of woollen drawers.

Did you hear the one about the Englishman who was emigrating to Australia?  While he was going through the formalities in the Australian customs he was asked if he had a criminal record.  “No, sorry,” he replied, “I didn’t think we still needed one.”

Did you know that a great many records of emigrants to the USA were destroyed in a fire at Custom House London in 1814?

In our March-April 1985 issue a filler tells us that the 1842 Mines Act followed a Royal Commission review on the exploitation of children in coal mines.  It said that boys under the age of 10 should not work down a coal mine at all, neither should females of any age.  It had been found that, in some cases, children as young as four years old had been working up to 12 hours a day alone and in darkness, and girls as young as six had been carrying coal on their backs.

findmypast changes

Hello, I’ve just posted this information on our forum, but am popping it here too, so that readers who are not forum users can find it more readily.

As we’re all likely to be well aware by now, many of the recent changes to the findmypast website have been met with frustration and confusion by the site users. Family Tree has compiled a list of questions, which findmypast are now looking at, and we hope that the answers will go some way to explaining both how the new developments came about, and future courses of action that findmypast might be looking at.

Our questions cover categories, such as: the thinking behind the new site, particularly its search interface; the beta-testing process; clarification of which issues are temporary glitches and which are not going to be subject to review; refunds; and the implications, as regards the old site, of the new findmypast site being aligned with the international one.

Over the years many in the family history community, myself included, have really enjoyed using findmypast for tracing our trees, so we hope that the future developments will see the site restored to its former reputation.
We’ll keep you posted on our forum and on our blog.

‘From street to trench’

Medals, memorial plaques, service books and printed entries from the Roll of Honour remind us of the sheer variety of material evidence of military activity that might turn up among family possessions.

Medals, memorial plaques, service books and printed entries from the Roll of Honour remind us of the sheer variety of material evidence of military activity that might turn up among family possessions.

If you had ancestors living in the North-West during the time of the First World War, a visit to this new exhibition at the Imperial War Museum North will enlighten and enthral. You probably won’t find details about your own family members, but so carefully have the subjects, themes and sources been chosen here that – whatever they did during the war – you are actually very likely to get an oblique glimpse of them by way of one  exhibit or another.

The populous North-West was key to the First World War effort in two major respects: as a centre of recruitment (thousands joined up and fought, particularly in Turkey, France and Belgium), and as a major industrial centre. Many local women found work in factories that were were turned over to new purposes; Manchester mills fashioned military uniforms, for example, and Pilkington’s glass factory in St Helen’s made the small glass portholes for submarines.

The IWM exhibition usefully shows how information about military ancestors might turn up in the most unlikely places. Edward Felix Baxter was a teacher in Liverpool who became a motorcycle despatch rider and then an officer in the 1/8th Battalion of the Kings Liverpool Regiment. He was awarded the VC for bravery in a trench raid on 17-18 April 1916. Family historians might be surprised – but edified -  to discover that his  full obituary appeared in Motor Cyclist magazine on 5 October 1916.

Many other thought-provoking sources vie for attention. Conscientious objection, for example, is tackled through an autograph book kept by Euclid Thursby, a cotton worker from Nelson, Lancashire, who was sent to work in the Power Loom Department at Wakefield Work Centre after he refused to join up. An audiotape of one Eveleyn Elleshaw reminiscing about how she watched women giving white feathers to men on the streets of Lancaster in 1914 gives a less sympathetic slant on the same issue.

All in all, the exhibition provides a rich sensory experience – combining film, audiotapes, official and personal writing, military paraphernalia and personal effects – that will, at the very least, give you plenty of inspiration about how you might find out more about ancestors living anywhere from Manchester to Merseyside and Cumbria to Cheshire in the period 1914-1918.  

 

The ‘From Street to Trench’ Exhibition runs from Sat April 5th 2014 to Sun 21st May 2015. Admission is free. Open daily from 10am to 5pm. Last admission 4.30pm.

Visitor Information

Imperial War Museum North

The Quays

Trafford Wharf Road

Manchester

M17 1TZ

Website:http://www.iwm.org.uk/exhibitions/iwm-north/from-street-to-trench-a-world-war-that-shaped-a-region

 

Thank you to family history researcher and author Ruth Symes for her coverage of the exhibition. Read more about Ruth’s genealogy interests at searchmyancestry.blogspot.co.uk

My Great-Great-Great Uncles’ War

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My name is Eleanor and I am a Year 10 student carrying out a week of work experience at Family Tree.

I was encouraged to find out some information about my own family history before coming into work. I was looking forward to doing this, since I knew only limited information and I was keen to learn more. Also, because this year is the 100th anniversary of World War One, both staff and I were interested to know some of my heritage with regards to this period of time.

This is my 3x Great Uncle William George Kemp

This is my 3x Great Uncle William George Kemp

I got in touch with my grandparents who told me information on two of my Great-Great-Great Uncles: William George Kemp and Robert Wright. My Mother’s parents told me that William George was in the Navy and was aboard a submarine which was mined, an incident in which there were no survivors. Whilst carrying out independent research, I found that he was a Stoker on the HMS E34 submarine, which was mined on 20th July 1918 in the Heligoland Bight in the North Sea. I found that he was born on the 20th December 1893 in Kent, which is where my Grandma and Grandad live, and worked as a farm labourer before joining the Navy at 13 years old. When asking my Father’s parents for information, they told me about Robert Wright, who was Rifleman 47797 in the Kings Royal Rifleman Corps. He was killed on 4th November 1918, which was a week before the war ended, but his cause of death is unknown and he is buried in France.

On my first day of work experience, I explained that I had found this information, and Helen Tovey helped me to find out more. Together we found William’s service number (K/16280) and that his name appears on the Chatham Naval Memorial. That evening I told my Grandparents of this;

‘We were delighted to hear that research has discovered Bill’s name is included on the Chatham Naval Memorial,’ explained my Grandma, Mavis Prater. ‘We will view it with mixed emotions – particularly gratitude for his sacrifice – and remembering the many others like him.’

 We found Robert Wright is commemorated on the Vis-En-Artois Memorial in France and also found his index card.

Even though there is much more of my family history to uncover, I am thrilled to have gathered this information. I think that, although I have been taking History lessons about World War One, as a fourteen-year-old, I find it hard to imagine anything like this event could happen. Finding out this information has made what happen really ‘hit home’ and has made me feel lucky to live in the time that I do.

From the Family Tree archives

Family Tree is celebrating its 30th birthday this year! With the November 2014 issue Family Tree will be 30 years old and by some margin the oldest national family history magazine published in Britain. Michael Armstrong, the founder of Family Tree, has been delving into the archives, recalling some of the treasures we’ve published, many of which were sent in by our readers over the years…

Family Tree March-April 1985January-February 1985.  On page 20 we read David Kightley’s report of the goings on at the Ipswich Branch of the Suffolk Family History Society. The society was formed four years previously with four people meeting to talk family history over a cup of coffee.  The group committee consisted of David Kightley (Chairman), Marguerite Kightley, Dora Kneebone*, Nial Sanderson, Don Biley, and secretary Yvonne Fenn.

*(Reading this reminded me that the first ever subscribers to Family Tree Magazine were the above mentioned Dora Kneebone and her friend Dr Monica Barnett, the then chairman of the Suffolk FHS).

On page 21 is a small filler saying that in Norwich in 1568 there lived 1,132 Dutch born people, and that by 1571 they numbered 4,000 – about a quarter of the city’s population.

Another filler tells us that after being appointed Captain General of the Low Countries in 1582, The Duke of Alva is said to have been responsible for the execution of more than 18,000 people in five years and to have caused 100,000 people to emigrate, many of them to Britain.

Under the heading of ‘Whose Tree’, Roy Stevens of the Wiltshire FHS came across this entry in the 1881 Census for the parish of Water Ferry in the Friarese of Oxford:

Street: Near Severns End
House: Shed
Name: Unknown
Condition: Unknown
Sex: Unknown
Rank or profession: Vagrant
Where born: Unknown

In the March-April 1985 issue a snippet tells us that if you see a letter ‘P’ written at the side of a burial entry it means that the person was a pauper and that the funeral was paid for out of public funds.

In the same issue we published a copy of a monumental gravestone gaffe spotted by Mr J C Raven of Edmonton, London, attached to the south wall of Crich Church in Derbyshire.  Can you spot the error?

To the memory of John Cooper of Crich who died 20th January 1803 aged 56 years.
And Ann, his first wife who died 4th January 1772 aged 28 years.
And Elizabeth his second wife who died January 29th 1787 aged 30 years.
And Elizabeth his third wife who died October 20th 1821 aged 64 years.
And Robert, son of John and Ann Cooper who died  October 5th 1842 aged 68 Years.

You got it  – Robert was supposedly born two years after his mother died!

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