We tend to assume that because a record is official it must be accurate, but records are only as reliable as the people supplying the information, and there are many reasons why our ancestors lied when filling in forms or supplying details to officials. If you’ve hit a block in your family history research, or have uncovered contradictory information, knowing the common reasons why people lied or made mistakes can help you to unpick the truth.
The scandal of child labour is well known, but the plight of the older worker remains largely hidden. Although life expectancy remained low until the 20th century, many family trees contain at least one ancestor who lived to a ripe old age. Before industrialisation, outdoor relief would have helped such elderly people, but in the early 19th century, the population began to expand and the centuries-old poor relief system came under strain.
Most people visiting Princess Royal Hospital in Kent have no idea what used to stand on the same spot. Some may have heard that the modern building stands where once there was a workhouse, but even fewer visitors know its eventful past. Readers familiar with workhouse horrors know the stories of the Andover scandal and Dickens’ saga of Oliver Twist. Not many have heard the fascinating story of Bromley’s Farnborough workhouse.
This oft-repeated statement was spawned by 19th-century poet Thomas Hood. I don’t remember the ‘house’ where I was born – not on account of lack of memory but because I was actually born in a hospital on London’s North Circular. However, thanks to photographs and discussions with my now departed parents I do remember the house which was to become my home and to which I returned days after my birth in November 1948. I continued to live there for the first couple of years of my life prior to the family’s return to the far north.
We have always, it seems, been fascinated by our overseas cousins – those who live in other countries appear more exotic, more glamorous; we’re divided by our languages, but also by our cultures. This also applies to foreign crime. Over the centuries, dispatches of various kinds have highlighted the affairs of ‘foreigners’ and the crimes that have been committed. This coverage of foreign affairs – by which I mean, in this article, foreign crime and criminals – inevitably increased in the late 19th century as newspapers proliferated and their pages increased. Newspapers knew that readers loved to read about crime, and did not mind whether that crime occurred locally or further afield.
TheGenealogist has added over half a million new parish records for Norfolk to its Parish Records collection. In addition to containing the uniquely transcribed records of baptisms, marriages and burials with images for over 250 parishes, these records also include some fascinating bastardy bonds, examinations, warrants and orders. With this release family historians will be able to find the details of ancestors baptised, married and buried as well as those that had children born out of wedlock in this East Anglian county.
Unlike male servants, Georgian maids received no livery but wore a common day dress with a cap, neckerchief and half-apron – neat female accessories fashionable for indoors. The housekeeper, in charge of female staff, did likewise, but when caps and aprons grew outmoded and began to specifically signify service around the mid-1800s, they renounced these and, cultivating a superior image, the mature Victorian or Edwardian housekeeper favoured a conservative dark gown, her keys about her waist. Also of elevated status, the lady’s maid generally dressed fashionably but often added a cap and apron, like other maids.
Recorded settlements at the mouth of the River Wear date to 674, when an Anglo-Saxon nobleman, Benedict Biscop, granted land by King Ecgfrith of Northumbria, founded the Wearmouth–Jarrow (St. Peter’s) monastery on the north bank of the river – an area that became known as Monkwearmouth. Biscop’s monastery was the first built of stone in Northumbria. It became a major centre of learning and knowledge in Anglo-Saxon England, and the chronicler Bede was born at Wearmouth in 673.
Everyone has a mother and a line of female ancestors and often their paths through life are hard to trace. That is why this detailed, accessible handbook is of such value, for it explores the lives of female ancestors from the end of the Napoleonic Wars in 1815 to the beginning of the First World War.
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