Category Archives: Family History

Obituaries as data sources


My great, great grandfather's newspaper obituary shows how valuable obitutaries can be to the family historian:

 

Southampton newspaper obituary 1882

SUDDEN DEATH OF Mr. H. A. LINFORD -the town experienced another painful example of the uncertainty of human life on Monday evening. Following almost immediately upon the melancholy decease of Mr. C. Horseman, the sudden death of Mr. H. A. Linford, of the South-Western Hotel, caused the profoundest consternation.

About 8 o'clock Mr. Linford entered his private office, and transacted certain business matters, then feeling rather unwell, but there appeared to be no cause for apprehending any danger. However, half an hour later, J. A. Tibbs, one of the porters at the hotel, entering the office, discovered his employer upon the floor, quite dead. He had fallen forward out of the chair, and there being a newspaper under him, it is supposed that having completed the writing, he was reading the paper when a fit seized him, and he fell forward an expired almost immediately.

Mr. Linford had for some time been suffering from heart disease, and during the last six months has paid occasional visits to a London physician, whom the same morning he had expressed an intention of seeing again on Wednesday. The deceased has also been treated by Dr. Wiblin and Dr. Beneraft, and the latter gentleman had seen him twice on the day of his death; in fact, he was with him an hour before the melancholy event occurred. The coroner (Mr. W. Coxwell) was immediately communicated with, and a jury was summoned to hold an inquest yesterday (Tuesday) afternoon, but later on an inquiry was deemed to be un-necessary, as Dr. Bencraft was perfectly prepared to certify as to the cause of death.

Mr. Linford was born in 1826. His father was a chemist and druggist at Canterbury, was a member of the Town Council there, and a Sheriff of the city. Daring his early life Mr. Linford was engaged in banking business in London, and more latterly as secretary to some of the large hotel companies. In 1870 he furnished and opened the South Western Hotel, with Mr. Catherwood, but the partnership lasted but a few years, and Mr. Linford became the sole proprietor. During his residence in Southampton he took a great interest in local matters.

In the year 1874 he was an active opponent to the purchase of the Gas Works by the town, and acted in the capacity of hon. secretary to the committee formed for opposing the project. In the following year he was elected a representative of St. Mary's Ward in the Town Council, and upon his offering himself for re-election three years later, was ,returned unopposed, in conjunction with Alderman a Dunlop, J.P., and Mr. J. P. Weston. On his term of office expiring in November last he did not offer himself for re-election, and consequently ceased to be a member of the Council. Mr. Linford leaves a wife and family of one son and seven daughters to mourn their loss, and great sympathy is felt for them in their sudden bereavement. The cause of death is certified to be “Angina pectoris.”


In the article not only do we have facts about his death but also his life and family.

Involve your children


Church yards are wonderful family tree resources with information on the gravestones that children can help you discover:

 

Once they can read you can get them to hunt down any gravestones that mention members of your family.

 

 

There is lots of fascinating information on them including dates of birth and death. You can challenge your children to work out how old a person was when they died based on these dates.

 

 

So why don’t you take your children down to the churchyard? You can create a grave scavenger hunt for your family:

  • earliest/most recent date for burial
  • youngest/oldest person buried in grave yard
  • how many different occupations
  • most common surname
  • anyone born somewhere overseas

Just give your child a notepad and pencil and let them wander around whilst you do your own research!

Family History: World War One


Last month I posted about finding my great grandfather’s medal record from ancestry.co.uk in this post. When the article came to the attention of my aunt and uncle I discovered that they had the actual medals! Today I got to see them and plenty of other memorabilia from my great grandfather.

It appears he was in the forces (maybe as a reservist?) as far back as 1913 as he had some medals for 3rd places in an army shooting competition at both 300 yards and a quarter mile. Both these medals are from the 5th Battalion the Hampshire Regiment:

In 1914 he was serving at the front in the 5th London regiment as a private. The proof for this includes a letter published in the local paper in Bickerstaffe:

He also had been given a box of cigarettes and tobacco by Princess Mary and her charity for Christmas in 1914:

There are still original cigarettes and tobacco in the box! Charles was himself a pipe smoker and his pipe from the war had his friends’ names carved into it:

For his service in 1914 he would receive the 1914 Star:

At some point before his wedding in 1915 he received a rapid promotion to 2nd Lieutenant. We need to get his full records to find out more. This meant he moved from a clay dog tag to a metal one:

Whilst he was an officer he had a notebook he used to record both important information on explosives and details of the mess bills:

Apparently he helped train troops whilst recovering on sick leave and on one occasion had to act fast when a recruit pulled the pin out of a grenade but forgot to throw it…

By the end of hostilities he had earned two more service medals:

I am just bowled over to have been able to hold these precious pieces of my family history. I feel so lucky that my great grandfather came through the whole war when so many others didn’t. Now the challenge is to see if I can find out more about his service…

So go and ask your family if they have something lurking in a tin or box in the attic.

Family History Friday: Band Family of Mottram and Glossop


Today I want to look at my paternal grandmother’s maiden name. She was born in Lancashire the daughter of Charles Band and Lillie Agnes Kellett.

Charles had been born in Glossop, Derbyshire in 1885. He was the youngest of 9 children:

Continue reading

Visiting County Record Offices


For most family historians with English ancestors at some point you will have to visit at least one County Record Office. So here are few tips if it will be your first time.

Plan your visit

Where is the record office?

This will be listed on the relevant county council web site. Remember county boundaries have changed over the centuries so you may need to confirm with a site like Genuki as to which record office you need. Some counties like Cumbria have more than one record office.

What records does the record office have?

There is no point travelling to the record office if it doesn’t have the records you need. This may include census records, parish registers, newspapers or other historical documents. Some of these may need to be requested in advance so check on the web site or telephone ahead.

Opening hours

The office may not be open 9-5 six days a week. This information should be on the web site too. It may be that you have to leave the building at lunch time if it closes. It may also be necessary to make an appointment if there is restricted space.

What should I take?

Identification

To join the County record office network (CARN) you need to bring along ID such as passport or driving licence. Once you have a card it makes access to all similar archives so much simpler.

Notes

Take a printout of the part of the family tree you are interested in for that visit. You may be able to take a laptop but check first.  Have a list of what you are hoping to achieve – this may help you stop getting side tracked.

Equipment

You will be restricted on using pencils in the research rooms. Take more than one and a good notebook to write down your discoveries. If you want printouts of what you find then you will need some cash to pay. Anything else will probably have to be left in a locker and mobiles set to silent/turned off.

In the record office

Don’t be afraid to ask

If it’s your first visit then ask the archivist for help on finding what you need to save time. They will also show you how to use micro film readers and point out the rules of use.

Be Systematic

Start with your initial target and work your way through the records just looking at them. If anything else catches your eye note where you find it and come back later. Write down the source references so that you can double check at a later date if necessary.

Above all enjoy the records and finding out more about your ancestors.

Occupations


When you start recording your ancestors occupations from census and BMD certificates it can be interesting to analyse them. Sometimes there may have been a tradition of staying in same job as a parent. In others you can see how your ancestors were effected by changes such as the Industrial Revolution and they may have moved around as they sought work. It may also be that their job contributed to their death through industrial related illnesses or accidents. One of my great, great grandfathers William NASH served as a steward for P&O cruises and died of cholera in Bombay in 1877.

In one branch of my father’s family all the men for several generations (ROBERTS/JONES) were  working in the north Welsh slate mines. My great grandfather Owen Evan JONES broke this tradition when he became a teacher having been the first in the family to learn English at school. For this crime he was disowned by his family and spent the rest of his life in Lancashire.

I have traced my paternal grandmother’s BAND ancestors as they moved into Mottram in Longdendale in Cheshire as cotton weavers and then to Glossop to work in the mills there. Most of the families I am descended from in the Glossop and Hayfield areas (TURNER/REDFERN) were heavily involved in the cotton mills. There were also some stone masons (DOWNS) and my great, great grandfather Charles Downs BAND helped to build Johannesburg post office and died out in South Africa.

My mother’s maternal line (BRADING/VANNER) were mostly from the Isle of Wight. A large proportion of these before the mid 19th century were agricultural labourers or stone masons. Once Queen Victoria popularised tourism to the island there was a move to owning pubs, hotels and even a coach service. There were also some fishermen and a few butchers.

Her paternal line were quite an entrepreneurial bunch. The LINFORD family seem to have been involved in clock making and butchers in Vauxhall, London. John Thomas LINFORD moved to Canterbury and joined his father-in-law (William WEEKS) as a chemist and druggist. One son took over the business and other Henry Albert LINFORD ran the South Western Railway hotel in Southampton – later this was the hotel in which the first class passengers on the Titanic spent their last night in England!

There isn’t a great history of military service in my family except for during the 2 World Wars. I have a few cousins listed as killed in action in those conflicts. Luckily my direct male ancestors were never sent to the front line due to age or medical impairments. My great, great uncle Alex BRADING served as a trooper in the Sudan in 1898 at the relief of Khartoum. He survived this campaign and later re-enlisted in Australia during the first world war.

Go and have a look at what your ancestors did for a living. You may find out some fascinating things!

52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy & History – Week #23 Books


This week’s geneabloggers prompt is books, these prompts are a great way to make family history personal and record information for your descendants. The full prompt is:

What was your favorite book, or who was your favorite author from your childhood? What do you like to read now? Books or other formats?

I am a real book addict and have been for as long as I can remember! I was a voracious reader as a child and was often told off for reading long after lights out at home. A child of the 1970s the authors and books I loved the most as a child definitely date me to this period:

  • Enid Blyton: Famous Five and Secret Seven books
  • Arthur Ransome: Swallows and Amazons
  • JRR Tolkein: The Hobbit (and later Lord of the Rings)
  • CS Lewis: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe et al

As an adult I still enjoy some of these (though maybe not Enid Blyton!) but I’ve got a real love of historical fiction with my favourite authors including:

  • Bernard Cornwell (Sharpe and others)
  • Dorothy Dunnett (Game of Kings series and House of Niccolo)
  • Wilbur Smith
  • CJ Sansome
  • Simon Scarrow
  • Conn Iggulden
  • Phillipa Gregory
  • Elizabeth Chadwick
I also enjoy crime, mystery and fantasy novels such as:

  • Colin Dexter’s Morse
  • Christopher Paolini (Eragon etc.)
  • Terry Pratchett’s Discworld etc.
  • Kate Mosse
So it’s quite a varied list of authors and books but definitely within the main genres of history, fantasy and crime or maybe a mix of 2 or more! So what books are you fondest of now or in your childhood?
I have set myself a challenge of reading 100 books this year to get back to one of my first loves. You can see the progress here.