Agriculture has always been more than a job: it is a way of life. Around 20% of the British workforce – men, women and children – once worked in agriculture, with many more working indirectly as blacksmiths, wheelwrights and carpenters. Those who worked on the land had a deep understanding of the countryside which many people can only yearn for today. But the rural idyll was
Like many family historians searching record collections, there are times when reading through the names in a set of parish records I stop short. In among the countless Johns and Mary Anns I may occasionally come across an unusual baptismal name recorded in the registers that makes me smile. Whether the child grew up thankful for this gift of a rather different Christian name, especially as they reached school age and met children blessed with more common names, is another matter altogether.
Alastair Simms from West Yorkshire is one of the last coopers in the UK. This age-old profession, which involves hand-crafting barrels (or, to give them their technical term, casks), has to all intents and purposes died out. The rise of automated mass production lines throughout the second half of the 20th century saw wooden casks replaced with metal barrels. Coopers, who were intrinsically linked with the brewery and pub trade, were also significantly hampered by the increasing dominance of chain pubs and big breweries which initially employed their own coopers rather than relying on local businesses.
This summer a cartography expert with an interest in family history, Neil Millington, released the fruit of an extraordinary project to create an animated, three-dimensional ‘fly-by’ of Manchester – in the year 1850. You can see his impressive work in the stills on these pages, and more dynamically in the videos at vimeo.com which imagines flying over the city in a balloon, as if you were travelling in to Manchester on a train during the first years of the railways
If your ancestor held a prominent position in a religious organisation then you may find them in amongst a number of recent releases at TheGenealogist.co.uk. The new records include: • The Year Book of the Church of England in the Dominion of Canada 1926 & 1935. This contains the details of members of clergy in Canada. • New Zealand Methodist Union Index 1913, listing details of Methodist ministers and their placements in New Zealand up to 1912.
The foundation of Luton is usually dated to the 6th century, when a Saxon outpost was founded on the river Lea (or Lugh), ‘Lea tun’. In the time of the Domesday Book in the late 11th century, the town’s population was around 700–800. Agriculture dominated the local economy at this time.
It may come as some surprise that in such a popular area of military history there is no book that focuses on the experience of the Victorian soldier – from recruitment to embarkation, fighting and perhaps returning, perhaps dying - in his own words. Dr Stephen Manning’s meticulous research in primary sources gives the lie to the received image of the disciplined, redcoated campaigner of Victorian art and literature: for one thing, by the time he arrived at his destination, the coat would have been in rags. The distances covered on march were unbelievable, through desert and disease-ravaged swamp. Lavishly illustrated throughout, all the
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