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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…

In our September-October 1985 issue we published an article by Colin Parry entitled ‘Beautiful Forever’ proving that even as far back as 1868 women who wished to improve their looks were open to fraud just as they can be nowadays. Colin told the story of a lady who called herself Madame Rachel. Rachel was sentenced to five years penal servitude for extracting money from middle aged ladies on the pretence of making them ‘beautiful forever’.

After being declared bankrupt in 1862 she was nevertheless determined to make her fortune. In 1861 a Colonel Alfred Borrodaile of the Madras Light Infantry died, leaving his wife a widow. Mary, hoping to marry again, set her sights on the 7th Viscount Ranelagh and was so determined that, patently deceived, she paid Madame Rachel the then enormous sum of £5,300 to make her ‘beautiful forever’. Inevitably the ministrations failed and Madame was tried for false pretences between 22 and 25 September 1868, found guilty, and was sentenced to five years penal servitude. Her sentence was reduced for good behaviour and she was released on a ticket of leave in 1872. Wasting no time in getting back to business she set up a shop at 29 Duke Street, Portland Place, London.

All went well until 1877, when Cecilia, the wife of stockbroker Godfrey Pearse, having handed over a quantity of jewellery in exchange for being made beautiful forever was not satisfied with the result. Madam Rachel appeared before Baron Huddleston at the Central Criminal Court from 10 to 11 April 1878 on the now familiar charge of false pretences and once again received a sentence of five years penal servitude, Disappearing behind the door of Millbank prison. By 15 July 1878 she was clearly a sick woman, and was transferred to Woking prison where she was found to be suffering from a combination of rheumatism, heart disease and dropsy to which she succumbed in the prison hospital on Tuesday 12 October 1880.

Rachel had seven children by her mutiple husbands, one of whom was a singer named Rosa Cromond who, says the author, had a less than humdrum life but that is another story.

For readers who may be interested in possible relationships with the lady, she firstly married a chemist from Manchester, whose name was not mentioned but from where she no doubt obtained her extensive knowledge of perfumes, face enamels and cosmetics. Her second marriage to James Moses ended abruptly when he was in the sinking of the Royal Charter on 26 October 1859. At this time she was established as a hair restorer at 5 Conduit Street. She may have benefited materially from James’s untimely death, since she took over a premises in New Bond Street, under the name of ‘Madam Rachel, Enameller and Vendor of Cosmetics’. In this year she married a Philip Nevison who kept a a fried fish shop in Vere Street, Clare Market.

Family history, archives and the referendum question…

With the Scottish referendum only hours away now, we thought we’d quickly share with you an article we published a year ago in Family Tree. In it punchy genealogist Chris Paton weighed up the possible implications of a Yes or No vote in the Scottish referendum, and the effects that a possible split might have on our archives, our shared heritage and – by implication – each of our own family histories.

Find the article in the pdf links to follow:

page 1

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page 3

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…

In our September-October issue 1985 there appeared this tongue-in cheek piece headed ‘Social Climbers’ submitted by Ted Armstrong, who along with his wife Judith formed the Armstrong Clan Association after the moon landing by Neil Armstrong in 1969.

We were working on our family tree when a visitor asked us what we were doing. He was very interested when we said our family originated from Scotland.

‘What a coincidence!’ he said. ‘So do mine.’

The family name he told us was McBean but when they left Scotland they dropped the first part of the name and became known as Bean. His family story fascinated us.

The Beans emigrated to many parts of the world, one going to Peru in the export business. The family are still there – the Lima Beans.

Another member of the family became a mercenary for a Polish count in 1774, stayed on in Warsaw, and started a family line that still exists today. Perhaps you have heard of the Pole Beans.

Then there is the German branch, famous for their elegant cars, the Mercedes Beans. One of this group was slow witted, and only five feet tall, they called him Heinz – the half-baked Bean.

Great-Great-Uncle Angus settled in Mexico to make a fortune in chilli con carne. However, as he couldn’t stand the hot Mexican weather, he moved to Alaska. We refer to that lot as the Chilli Beans.

Another branch was formed when a Bean married into a Chinese family with an hereditary lung defect. They later moved to Brazil and became known as the Brazilian Coughee Beans. One went to Hong Kong, and became known as the Soya Bean.

As in every family we have our black sheep; there was Machine Gun Bean in Chicago during the Capone era. He went to the electric chair and was so tough it took two jolts to kill him. We have our little joke about him: the Refried Bean. Refried’s brother was a pickpocket known as Bean Dip. He had an ugly wife, the Bean Bag, and many kids, the Bean Sprouts.

Cedric Bean went to Oxford University and was known as Old Bean but later hit on hard times and became a real Has-Bean. It was once falsely rumoured that he founded the Beano Comic. He had a very fat wife known as the Broad Bean.

Uncle George went into medicine, made his name as a Renal specialist and was often called Kidney Bean. He had a son who became an athlete, Runner Bean.

Each year we have a Bean feast, which our remarkable family always try to attend, even the French Beans, their name is Legume. Their branch is related to Toulouse Lautrec, the Dwarf Beans.

Inspired by the Wipers Times

Satirical soldiers’ newspaper the Wipers Times provided an entertaining, stubborn and stoical take on life at the Front, written by and for the soldiers. And to honour this much-loved legendary publication, a hundred years on, Nick Roberts (grandson of the paper’s editor – Captain FJ Roberts) has collaborated with the Visit Flanders Tourist Board to create The Flanders Field Post. Downloadable free, it’s full of illustrations and information about the years of the First World War in Flanders, and could be just the thing to inspire you to take a battlefield trip. Click here to download it.

For further advice about WW1 battlefield tours, check out the latest issue of Family Tree, on sale on Wednesday 6 Augst, in which Major and Mrs Holt share their know-how on how to make sure yours is a trip to remember.

 

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…

In our September-October 1985 issue there appeared an interesting article sent in by reader Christine Harris, who pointed out the value of searching for old school log books in local libraries and county record offices. Christine told us that she first came across these while engaged in a local history project on the Rutland village of Preston.

The village school which closed in 1962 had kept log books from 1872 and the first master to do so was a young bachelor of 26. The Education Act had only recently made school attendance compulsory and is it clear that both children and parents thought very little of it.

Boys and girls repeatedly reported absent for seasonal jobs such as scaring birds when seed was sown (February to March); gleaning after the harvest (this despite the fact that they had just had five weeks holiday to help with the harvest itself (September) and potato digging (November).

In addition the pupils stay away from school not only when Preston Feast is celebrated but also when the nearby village of Ridlington and the town of Uppingham were having their feasts. They were kept at home when they themselves were ill (whooping cough seems to have been a constant threat) or to look after their younger brothers and sisters when mother fell sick.  One possible cause of poor attendance was the condition of the school itself; a report from HM Inspector in 1873 complains that ‘a heavy smell pervades the room at all times which indicates stagnation of the air and possibly offensive matter between the joists …’.

In writing the article Christine says she omitted the names of specific youngsters who were quite frequently mentioned by conscientious teachers who filled in the log week by week. Even if the reader tracks down only a mundane entry such as the return to class after sickness you will have made a valuable link to the past.  So imagine how pleasurable it would be if you are lucky enough to identify Great-Grandma as the girl who won the Rutland Industrial Society’s annual knitting competition.

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