The ‘merchant navy’ is an umbrella term that refers to commercial ships, so it includes passenger liners, cargo ships, tugs and ferries. In the past there were a number of different ways in which a young man might begin his career as a seaman or officer in the merchant navy, which was also known as the mercantile marine.
Until the end of the 19th century, the parish clerk was an important character in the life of church and parish. He read the lessons, gave out the hymns, led the singing and the responses, served at the altar, gave out notices, kept the keys, and undertook a myriad of other duties. He has, however, disappeared from our churches, and is rarely mentioned by historians, even those who specialise In the history of the parish. The modern parish clerk, incidentally, performs quite a different and entirely secular role.
We take it for granted today that when someone dies as a result of violence, there are a wealth of techniques and technologies that can help find out what happened, and who both victim and perpetrator were. Many techniques were once the province of pioneers who saw their worth and utilised them, leading to their acceptance by the wider world. This month, we look at three of the British pioneers who played their own part, and detail cases they worked on.
It is always a great boost to any family history research when we are able to find a short biographical piece about an ancestor. It may be an entry in a Who’s Who type of book, a few lines in a regimental history or roll of honour, or a paragraph in the person’s school or college register. This last type of record will usually be published some years after their attendance at the educational institution and will be intended to inform their readers about the achievements of the past pupil of the educational establishment. In some cases the school may have produced a book as a tribute to its former students who had lost their lives in the First or Second World Wars.
When the Wimbledon Championships begin in late June, albeit with fewer live spectators this year, many viewers will be studying the players’ clothing, as well as their game. Wimbledon champions have led tennis style since the 19th century, but like other sportswear, the development of tennis dress has been complicated and many of our predecessors, playing at all levels, will have deliberated over what to wear on court.
Family History TV (https://family-history.tv) is a new website which promises to be the place to watch expert speakers from the world of British genealogy, military history, DNA, house history and social history deliver their informative and entertaining talks online. This new and reasonably priced service aims to open up these talks to a wider audience.
By 1850 the British woollen industry was largely mechanised, its complex processes ranging from sorting and scouring, blending and carding/combing, to spinning, weaving and finishing, all becoming faster, more efficient. Ironically, its importance to the Victorian economy would decline as new industries emerged, yet the next 25 years witnessed unprecedented expansion.
TheGenealogist marked last month’s anniversary of the famous Royal Air Force Dambusters raid on the Ruhr Valley dams in May 1943 by releasing a large tranche of fully searchable RAF Operations Record Books (ORBs) including the ORBs for the famous No 617 Squadron, giving an insight into their lives.
Oxford has been a magnet for tourists and historians alike for centuries, and many of them have left vivid, interesting and sometimes amusing accounts of their discoveries about the city and their encounters with its inhabitants. This new book – first of a new series of heritage guides for cities across Britain – brings together a wealth of these travellers’ tales for the first time, gleaned from almost five centuries of diaries, journals, field notes and travel guides.
Worcestershire was the heartland of the early English kingdom of the Hwicce, one of the peoples of Anglo-Saxon England. It was absorbed by the Kingdom of Mercia during the 7th century and then by the unified Kingdom of England from 927. The county includes the site of the Battle of Evesham in which Simon de Montfort was killed on 4 August 1265.
Over the last 18 months many of us have found ourselves thrust into the role of unpaid lockdown teacher. As we donned our best ‘teacher face’ and attempted to impart some semblance of learning to our (at times unruly) offspring, we could at least do so in the knowledge that it was a temporary arrangement. But for the humble governesses of the 19th century, it was often a career choice born out of necessity. A governess was not only expected to teach the ‘three R’s’ (reading, writing and arithmetic) – as well as French conversation, history and ‘accomplishments’ such as watercolour painting, piano, dancing, and deportment to girls who could be anywhere between five and 15 years old – but also prepare her older charges for the marriage market. With the destiny of many a young girl in their hands, and a lingering awkwardness over their status in the household, little wonder the figure of the governess became synonymous with quiet obedience and a meek acceptance of her own bleak prospects.
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