Unfortunately, appointment diaries are often the first items to be thrown away when a descendant is checking through the papers of a deceased relative. Archives too tend to dispose of such diaries unless they are part of a much larger estate of papers and/or belong to someone famous. Multiple volumes of these ‘mere’ records of engagements are often considered to be too scantily filled to be of any real historical value, and too bulky to warrant storage space. The sentimental stuff that absorbs us in other kinds of personal diaries simply isn’t there to be analysed. But, surprisingly, appointment diaries can open up many different of avenues of research about an ancestor, so do try to have a good look through before consigning them to the tip.
When registration of births, marriages and deaths became compulsory in Britain in 1837, any strait-laced men who were appointed to maintain the new registers may have had a shock. Although most parents opted for a traditional name such as Charlotte, Elizabeth, George and William, some had a less conventional approach to naming their offspring. Unusual choices were only a small proportion of names registered, but personal values and wider public opinion can be inferred from some of them.
As family history researchers we often find people who have a common surname, such as Smith, to be troublesome when investigating a branch of a family tree. Finding them in records is often a problem, especially when the last name is allied with a first name that is also commonplace. Recently I was looking for someone named Smith, but in this case this particular branch of Smiths had seen fit to give their offspring a very distinctive forename of Culling. They then changed their last name to Eardley in 1847 by royal licence, as a result of inheriting an estate that came to them by marriage. A generation on and another union would see the good name of the family dragged through the courts and newspapers.
If you wanted to know what was going on, at home and abroad, in the reign of Emperor Gaius Julius Caesar, c60BC, you wandered down to the Forum in Rome and read the news bulletin of the day. Called Acta Diurna – a government announcement literally about ‘daily doings’ – it was affixed somewhere convenient, a pillar or wall, and in style was direct, much like newspaper journalism today. It was, in fact, the world’s first newspaper.
The publishing revolution of the 16th and 17th centuries witnessed an explosion of printed material, democratising information and pushing it into the hands and sight of more people than ever before. A large single sheet of cheap paper could be printed with a proclamation, adorned with a woodcut, and sent out among the masses. These broadsides were sold for a penny on street corners, pasted on alehouse walls, and stuck up on market posts. In 1592, the playwright and stationer Henry Chettle described how ballads “infected London the eie of England", then travelled through the country via ballad-mongers, who could “spred more pamphlets by the State forbidden than all the Booksellers in London". There was a hunger (then as now) for tales of sex and scandal and, for the first time, a network of illustrators, printers, and distributors were able to glut this desire. The Jacobean playwright Thomas Middleton referred to ballads as “fashions, fictions, felonies, fooleries". Cheap print was the medium of the masses, and the crude woodcuts were the visual language of early modern England.
TheGenealogist.co.uk has expanded its UK Parish Records collection with the release of more than 1,363,000 new records for Northumberland. These records make it easier to find your ancestors’ baptisms, marriages and burials in these fully searchable records that cover the ancient parishes of the northernmost county of England. Some of the records can take you as far back as 1560. In this release you can find the records of: 903,314 individuals in Baptisms, 157,329 individuals in Marriages and 302,378 individuals in Burials.
Undergarments have long been worn for modesty, warmth, comfort and hygiene. Biblical references to the fig leaf and ‘girded loins’ indicate early types of covering for the genitals, probably initially sourced from the natural world, later fashioned from woven cloth. Paintings demonstrate that medieval men wore either drawers formed like a simple loincloth of fabric passing through the legs and tied about the hips with a lace, or looser girdled Saxon ‘braies’ of varying lengths, sometimes indistinguishable from outer breeches. In general, fine linens were worn by the wealthy, coarser linens or leather drawers by the masses. Tudor trunk hose were underlined with linen and during the 1600s and 1700s most men wore washable linen breeches linings, tied at waist and knee, with or without separate flannel or linen drawers.
Ipswich in Suffolk has been an important English port since Saxon times, and claims to be one of the country’s oldest towns. Under the Roman empire, the area around Ipswich formed an important route inland to rural towns and settlements via the rivers Orwell and Gipping. The modern town took shape in the 7th–8th centuries around Ipswich dock, essential to trade with northwestern Europe. Towards 700AD,
Flesh and Blood is the story of the McGann family as told through seven maladies – diseases, wounds or ailments that have afflicted actor Stephen’s relatives over the last century and a half, and which have helped mould him into what he now perceives himself to be. It’s the story of how health, or the lack of it, fuels our collective will and informs our personal narrative. Flesh and Blood combines McGann’s passion for genealogy with an academic interest in the social dimensions of medicine – and fuses these with a lifelong exploration of drama as a way to understand what motivates human beings to do the things they do.
It will not have escaped the notice of regular readers that recently TheGenealogist’s researchers have been busy at work in expanding the site’s online parish records for Northumberland. Over 1,300,000 of these records relating to baptisms, marriages and burials are now fully accessible via the site’s easy-to-use search engine. In some cases, these records can take a lucky family historian back to the early days of Queen Elizabeth I. I have lived in the north east of England for almost 50 years and contributed historical articles for a number of years to a magazine called The Northumbrian and am thrilled to discover how useful these new online records are.
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