In the mid-1770s, Britain was facing a prisons crisis. Convicts had been transported to America since the early 17th century but, after the American War of Independence began in 1775, sending criminals there was no longer an option. At the time, the so-called ‘Bloody Code’ listed more than 200 crimes for which the death sentence could be passed, including theft. For these minor offences, judges routinely punished prisoners with transportation instead of a hanging. As a result, the jails were overcrowded with convicts awaiting transportation – but it was to be more than a decade before the first criminals were sent to Australia.
Yorkshire folk are ‘right proud’ of their sporting heritage and it is likely that our Yorkshire ancestors will have taken part in some form of sporting activity and that this activity may have been recorded. There may, however, still be pitfalls in carrying out the research necessary to track their deeds. In the 19th century, for example, what we now regard as a sport was often classified as a pastime. On the other hand, shooting, fishing, stalking and hunting were regarded as sports. This can often cause problems when looking out for, say, football ancestors in Victorian sporting literature.
Up until the 18th century, the rural, provincial or city magistrate largely had to make up his work as he went along. That might be a bit unfair, for there were legally trained clerks to assist them, but magistrates themselves were drawn from the gentry and, although some had originally trained for the bar, many others may not have had any legal training. The job came to them by dint of their social position, rather than any legal qualifications they may or may not have had.
Ever since our prehistoric ancestors first devised basic bag-like hand-coverings, gloves have performed many practical, social, ceremonial and symbolic functions and also offer scope for fashionable display. As tokens of supremacy and distinction, gloves and gauntlets (with extended cuffs) were used by rulers and warriors throughout the ancient world. After the Norman Conquest, royalty, the higher clergy and other dignitaries wore gloves as badges of status. Richly embroidered and jewelled gloves were part of the insignia of medieval emperors and kings. Traditionally bestowed at coronation ceremonies, this ritual was observed in 1953 when Elizabeth II was invested with the symbols of monarchy: a stole, golden Robe Royal, orb, sceptre, ring, and glove presented by the Worshipful Company of Glovers.
The small north-eastern city of Durham has its origins in late Saxon and Viking times. In the year 995AD, a group of monks from Lindisfarne decided to move the body of St Cuthbert (634-687), the prime figure of Northumbrian Christianity who had been bishop of Lindisfarne, from Chester-le-Street to the strategic safety of what is now called the Durham Peninsula.
This 40-page guide is packed with useful research information relating to dozens of occupations, covering around 90% of the Victorian population – there are listings of resources for almost 70 different groups of trades. The book also has an extended introduction to the many resources available for researching different aspects of occupational history in general. It is currently available at an introductory price of only £3.50, rising to £4.99 this summer.
You can buy a printed version of the annual Discover Your Ancestors bookazine directly from the publishers, please see www.discoveryourancestors.co.uk and click on ‘Order print copies’ at the bottom.
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