This year, 2017, is the bicentenary of the birth of Branwell Brontë, the wayward artistic brother of the literary trio Charlotte, Emily and Anne. The circumstances of his death at Haworth parsonage on 24 September 1848 (at just 31), has been a source of fascination for historians and members of the public alike. For while Branwell’s death certificate clearly states that he died from ‘chronic bronchitis-marasmus,’ a veritable storm-cloud of other possibilities swirled around his last years and months.
Artist. Glass decorator. Inventor. These were the various occupations of my brilliant great-great-grandfather, Thomas Henry Shields King, whose artistic career was marred by tragedy and scandal. Born in 1863 to Thomas Todd and Jane King, he grew up in the Islington, London area with his eight siblings. He appears in the 1871 census as a scholar and his father is a manager for a boot and shoe dealer. In 1877 his mother died of tuberculosis. Jane was just 41 years old and her widowed husband had several children to take care of. Thomas Todd took a position at Clarke’s shoe factory in Shoreditch and in 1879 he married Mary Louisa, the daughter of his under manager Robert Taylor. The age gap of 20 years didn’t seem to bother Mary.
Getting to Nevis, a small idyllic island in the Caribbean that spans just 36 square miles, is a long journey by today’s standards. After a ten-and-a-half-hour flight to the neighbouring island of St Kitts, it’s another taxi to the far side of the island to pick up a water taxi or a ferry. It is worth it in the end for the breathtaking scenery and tranquil atmosphere that draws in holidaymakers from around the world year after year, myself included! But it is difficult to complain when we imagine the mammoth, almost incomprehensible two-month journey that Christopher Columbus undertook over 500 years ago.
TheGenealogist.co.uk has enlarged its Court & Criminal Records collection so that even more black sheep ancestors can now be searched for and found on the site. With the new release of records you can unearth all sorts of ancestors who came up against the law – whether they were a victim, acquitted, convicted of a minor offence or found guilty of a major crime such as murder.
For centuries underwear mainly comprised the loose male shirt and female smock: except for ladies’ petticoats and men’s drawers, separate undergarments have only evolved since the 1800s. During the medieval, Tudor and Stuart eras, plunging necklines often revealed expanses of flesh, the bosom only thinly veiled with fine lawn. Georgian petticoats incorporating bodices provided an extra layer, but busts grew more prominent with the flimsy neoclassical gowns of the 1790s/early-1800s. While a low décolletage was de rigueur for evening wear, respectable day dress of the early-mid 19th century might require a false chemise front (chemisette) tied around the waist and buttoned behind the neck, modestly concealing the chest. Meanwhile, as Victorian petticoats shed their bodices, the former petticoat bodice re-emerged as an optional corset cover, a new article of underwear that soon became known as the camisole.
The region now known as Gloucestershire was originally inhabited by Brythonic peoples (ancestors of the Welsh and other British Celtic peoples) in the Iron Age and Roman periods. In the final quarter of the 6th century, the Saxons of Wessex began to establish control over the area. Gloucestershire probably originated as a shire in the 10th century; towards the close of the 11th century, the boundaries were readjusted to include Winchcombeshire, previously a county by itself, and at the same time the forest district between the Wye and the Severn was added to Gloucestershire.
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