Whether or not we read the Daily Mail, founded in 1896, it remains Britain’s highest-circulation daily newspaper, its middle-market readership and cutting-edge reporting offering scope for studying popular taste and cultural trends over time. Product advertisements are particularly informative and when I discovered a copy dated Tuesday 8 March 1921, this proved a fascinating historical source for mainstream fashions and clothes shopping 100 years ago.
In 1918, an audience at the Wood Green Empire in north London was eagerly watching that night’s entertainment – the famous magician Chung Ling Soo was performing. He was an experienced performer, first hired as a Chinese magician at the Folies Bergère in Paris back in 1900. He was an exotic creature to Westerners, clad in traditional Chinese robes, with his hair in a Chinese ‘queue’. He claimed to be half-American, half-Chinese, never speaking on stage, and only able to speak in broken English off-stage, when he wasn’t using a Chinese interpreter. He was so popular in Europe that he quickly became one of vaudeville’s highest-paid performers. Yet his identity itself was an illusion. Chung Ling Soo was really an American of Scottish descent – one William Ellsworth Robinson, 39 years old when he had performed in Paris. In fact, Soo had been exposed by a rival magician, Ching Ling Foo, a genuine Chinese man, whose name he had adapted for himself. The men had a long-standing rivalry, and Ching Ling Foo made a point of finding out Soo’s real identity. While performing himself in London in 1905, Foo revealed Soo as an impostor – but was horrified to learn that the press didn’t care who Soo really was, as long as he could perform tricks.
Since its official unveiling by Queen Victoria in March 1871, the Royal Albert Hall in Kensington has hosted more than 30,000 events, attracting nearly 1.7 million people to its live performances every year. Providing a platform for global leaders from the world of arts, science, sport and politics, audiences have listened to the impassioned speeches of the suffragette movement, the psychedelic sounds of Jimi Hendrix, and the spiritual teachings of the Dalai Lama. Known affectionately as ‘The Albert’, the Grade 1 listed building receives no public funding for its running costs as a registered charity, yet it remains a symbol of hope and unity, inspiring future generations.
Many of us from rural areas may have had ancestors who were gamekeepers, responsible for stopping locals from poaching game on privately owned estates. My own 3x-great-grandfather was from a farming family in Dorset. He moved to neighbouring Hampshire in the mid-Victorian era to work as a gamekeeper, before becoming a farmer himself. His farming background gave him a good knowledge of animals and land, and his appearances in the local press show how he was regularly called on to report burglars and poachers in his area to the police, and to give evidence about them in court.
Recently I turned the television on to find a broadcast of The 39 Steps, a film from 1959 with Kenneth More in the lead. More was one of the first British stage and screen actors that I ever took a passing interest in as a child, as I had never been much of a film buff until his appearances got my attention. My fascination with him stemmed from the fact that, while he was then appearing in The Forsyte Saga on TV in 1967, I found myself being sent as a pupil to his old school. At Victoria College in Jersey it was well known that he was a successful ‘Old Victorian’ and so someone to aspire to. There was a painting of King Charles I hanging in the Great Hall that he had presented to his old school in 1957 and then there was also an annual Kenneth More Prize for Drama, instituted by him in 1962.
TheGenealogist has just released the records for another 98,618 individuals from Southwark to increase the number of records to over 800,000 individuals in its unique online Lloyd George Domesday Survey collection. These property records are a fantastic resource for researchers searching for where an ancestor lived in the period 1910-1915.
Following the Norman Conquest of 1066, the burgeoning British wool industry advanced, wool production and trade now driving the economy. Initially much commerce concerned the raw fleece, the largest flocks of sheep belonging to the great landowning abbeys and monasteries. Several, including Rievaulx and Fountains in Yorkshire, Furness in Lancashire and Tintern in Wales sold thousands of fleeces to Italy, France, Germany and the Low Countries, using the income to finance the construction of their magnificent buildings.
Warwickshire is a landlocked county in the centre of England, famous for being the birthplace of William Shakespeare and George Eliot. Its county boundaries have seen various changes since 1889, notably the loss of the cities of Birmingham (see the June 2013 issue of the Periodical) and Coventry and the town of Solihull. The market towns of northern and eastern Warwickshire were industrialised in the 19th century; the south of the county remains largely rural and sparsely populated, and includes a small area of the Cotswolds.
For many enthusiasts pursuing their family history research, the online world offers a seemingly endless archive of digitised materials to help us answer the questions posed by our ancestors. In addition to hosting records, however, the internet also offers a unique platform on which we can host our research and lure in prospective cousins from around the world, to help build up a larger shared ancestral story.
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.
Discover Your Ancestors Publishing,
PO BOX 163,
Put your research questions to an expert, watch a talk, speak to a local society, archive or genealogical supplier.
Special Offer! Buy tickets for £7.00 (£10.00 on the day)
Unable to make the next show? We also have shows planned for the following locations:
Discover Your Ancestors Periodical is published by Discover Your Ancestors Publishing, UK. All rights in the material belong to Discover Your Ancestors Publishing and may not be reproduced, whether in whole or in part, without their prior written consent. The publisher makes every effort to ensure the magazine's contents are correct. All articles are copyright© of Discover Your Ancestors Publishing and unauthorised reproduction is forbidden. Please refer to full Terms and Conditions at www.discoveryourancestors.co.uk. The editors and publishers of this publication give no warranties, guarantees or assurances and make no representations regarding any goods or services advertised.