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Each issue is packed full of entertaining stories, case studies, social history articles and research advice – great for anyone starting out in family history research, for experienced researchers needing help overcoming stumbling blocks, and for those with a general interest in how our ancestors lived their lives.
If you had picked up a copy of The Times on Friday 10 June 1870 you would have been able to read the news of the death of Charles Dickens, one of the country’s favourite authors. The article was very low key by today’s standards, slotted in among the other pieces of ‘Latest Intelligence’ and well into the edition of the paper. Surrounded by column inches dedicated to details of cotton bales landed at New York, Reuters reports on the French legislature and a horse show taking place at Islington, the announcement seems out of place to modern eyes. The lack of images is another striking difference between The Times then and now. The report is, nonetheless, respectful and recognises that readers would have felt ‘sorrow’ as well as ‘surprise’ at Dickens’ sudden death. There was a second piece, a precis of the author’s life, further into the paper.
Charles Dickens gave the world its most famous cheapskate in Ebenezer Scrooge, a man who liked darkness partly because it meant not paying for a measly candle. Ghostly visitations in the novella A Christmas Carol brought redemption from his mean and penny-pinching ways, unlike the real person who is believed to have inspired this iconic scrimper.</p> <p>John Elwes (1714–1789), born John Meggot, inherited enormous wealth and his stingy ways from an eccentric family. His maternal grandmother Lady Isabella Hervey was, according to her brother John Hervey, 1st Earl of Bristol, a miser. This hoarding attitude to money and personal discomfort passed down to her children. Her daughter Amy married a brewer, Robert Meggot, but after his death she refused to pay for food despite having no shortage of funds. She’s believed to have starved to death, after which ownership of the family home of Marcham Park in Berkshire passed to her son, John.
It’s always really interesting to take a dive into the censuses, not just to research your own family history, but to look at other people’s. Our innate nosiness comes into play here, as well as curiosity about how much history changes over a relatively short period of time
Matthew Arnold’s name will be forever linked to Oxford, the city that inspired some of his greatest work and launched his literary career. In particular, he will always be remembered for his famously evocative description of Oxford as ‘that sweet city with her dreaming spires’, a line from his 1865 poem ‘Thyrsis’, written in memory of his friend Arthur Clough and reflecting the affection both men felt for the countryside around Boars Hill to the west of the city.</p> <p>These days it is still possible to tread in Arnold’s footsteps to enjoy the gently rolling hills and that famous view of the ‘dreaming spires’, with much of this land now in the care of the Oxford Preservation Trust.
TheGenealogist has released a collection of war memorials for soldiers that had served in the First World War. Comprising of details for men who had been born in Ireland as well as in England, Scotland and Wales with connections with the island of Ireland.
The pioneering semi-synthetic textile viscose rayon or ‘art silk’ that advanced during the 1920s inspired several variants and, eventually, further artificial fabrics. One notable spinoff, marketed as ‘Celanese’, was acetate rayon, a form of bioplastic. The British Cellulose and Chemical Manufacturing Company established by the Swiss Drefus brothers in 1916 was originally tasked with producing cellulose acetate ‘dope’ (lacquer) for coating the fabric covering wings and fuselage of aircraft. After the war, production focused on developing acetate fibres and, being softer, stronger, easier to care for and cheaper to manufacture than traditional fabrics like stiff silk and taffeta, cellulose acetate became important in garment manufacturing. In 1923 the company was renamed British Celanese (combining ‘cellulose’ and ‘ease’) and remained independent until the brothers died and Courtaulds took over the business in 1957. Rayon and acetate both helped to fuel popular mass-market fashion between the 1920s and 1950s and were also used in modern home furnishings. Having similar properties, they were once considered the same textile, but acetate uses acetic acid in its production and nowadays the two fabrics have to be differentiated on garment labels.
Norfolk was settled in pre-Roman times. The Iceni tribe inhabited the county from the 1st century BC to the end of the 1st century AD. The Iceni revolted against the Roman invasion in 47 AD, and again in 60 AD led by Boudicca. The crushing of the second rebellion opened the county to the Romans. During the Roman era roads and ports were constructed throughout the county.
Everyday Life in Victorian London explores the daily lives of adults and children, aristocracy and middle classes, working poor and the ‘submerged tenth’ underclass. It shows the different faces of London, with its many extremes and contrasts – by day and by night; busy and peaceful; ugly and beautiful; safe and dangerous. It looks at the River Thames and its importance; the City, West and East Ends; at work, leisure, health, hospitals, education, food, clothes, housing, shops and markets, transport and infrastructure, public services, crime, the police and prisons, immigrant communities, and important events such as the Great Exhibition of 1851 and Queen Victoria’s golden and diamond jubilees.
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