Tuesday, 28 April 2015

A-Z Challenge 2015: X is for Xtopher

This is something I came across while researching.  So many of my male ancestors had names beginning with the letter 'X'...it was untrue!  And yes, it was untrue, to a certain Xtent.

You see, the further back you go - when they start writing in Latin that sometimes even a university professor would struggle with - they use abbreviations.  A lot.  Ever notice that little line above a name? That means the name was abbreviated. A small letter after the first syllable? Abbreviation. So you may not have had an ancestor called Eliz.  She may not even have been called Eliza.  It's just that she was abbreviated.  And as for Xtopher...it seems that, wherever the syllable 'Chris' or 'Christ' occurred - there was the 'X'.

A-Z Challenge 2015: X

© 2015 Ros Haywood. All Rights Reserved

Monday, 27 April 2015

A-Z Challenge 2015: W is for WikiTree

I hardly know where to start with this one.  Oh, yes - wait.  I do know.  WikiTree!
There are plenty of sites around which suggest you build your tree online (and they are either free or paid-for).  Over the years, I have dutifully been putting my tree up on various sites with no effect other than
to add a little MORE pressure to my already-full day.  And then along came WikiTree.  Sounded good, it was free, lots of privacy, even an honour code.  So I put my tree up there, person by person (I'll discuss why not a huge GEDCOM in a moment).  I even put a photo of my grandmother up there which I had taken when I was about 10.

Then I got an email, asking me about my identity (and quoting several names and places so I would know it wasn't a scammer).  It was a cousin I'd never met!  I had been searching for him and his side of the family for over 30 years.  He rang his sister, and said "We've found her! We've found her!" and it turned out that they had been searching for me for ages, too.  And we found each other because of WikiTree.

Oh, yes.  Why not a huge GEDCOM.  OK, it probably is a good idea if you have an enormous tree of 35,000 people, but when you only have a few hundred (so far) I think it is better to type them in, person by person, even if it takes days rather than minutes.  (Of course, it does help if you can type really quickly.)  That's the way, in my opinion, that you really get to KNOW your ancestors.  When you have typed 'Ebenezer Haywood' a few times, you will never forget him!  Or 'Otho Popham', or 'Loveday Anna French', 'Rabage Beere', or 'Beaton Downe' (Yes, really!).  (These are all actual names from my own tree.)  You may not remember every single date (although frequent retyping definitely helps), but you begin to remember the names, and which family they belong to.  And family is what it's all about, isn't it?


© 2015 Ros Haywood. All Rights Reserved

Saturday, 25 April 2015

A-Z Challenge 2015: V is for Victoria(n)

Well, this is some sort of victory for me, after being so unwell.  Did you know that the origin of the word 'victory' is Latin - victoria?   And that segues nicely into my 'V' post - here she is:

In case you have no idea who she is - this is Queen Victoria (monarch between 1837-1901).  So many things happened or were discovered or made during her reign!  Here is a genealogical list (you may be familiar with some of the items):

1837 (Victoria ascends the throne) Civil registration introduced (birth, marriage, death certificates) 
1840 New Zealand becomes a British colony
1841 First census of any use to genealogists, containing names, ages (rounded up or down), occupations, and a simple "born in same county? Yes/No"
1848 Cholera epidemic (2,000 a week dead)
1851 Great Exhibition
1851 Census: this one includes actual town or village of birth, and ages were not rounded up or down
1854 Crimean War
1861 Census
1867 British North America becomes Dominion of Canada
1870 Basic education becomes free for children under 10
1871 Census
1881 Census (did you ever use those CDs published by the LDS? I did some of the indexing!)
1891 Census
1901 Census
and of course, many other items such as invention of the telephone, the light bulb, the Great Famine, steam engines, the Industrial Revolution - the list goes on and on

After she died:
1911 Census (this is the first one where you can see the householder's handwriting instead of the enumerator's (sometimes guesswork) - I never knew how much impact it would make on me until I saw my great-grandfather's handwriting and realised it was exactly the same as my father's)
Suffragettes would often write "No Vote No Census" instead of completing it.


© 2015 Ros Haywood. All Rights Reserved

Sunday, 12 April 2015

A-Z Challenge 2015: J is for Just A Minute

Not well right now, so normal Challenge broadcasts will be resumed as soon as possible.

© 2015 Ros Haywood. All Rights Reserved

Friday, 10 April 2015

A-Z Challenge 2015: I is for Infant Mortality

A-Z Challenge 2015: Infant mortality
Infant mortality - a subject which genealogists come across with frightening regularity the further back you trace your family tree, where children died before the age of one.

Figures such as 350 babies out of a 1000 as late as 1842.

There are, of course, many reasons for this:
  • No plumbing (or only basic plumbing)
  • Feeding with unsuitable foods (I have an ancestor's little brother who wasted away from being fed milk from a cow with TB)
  • Lack of trained care
  • Busy mothers having to leave their baby unattended
  • Violent shaking of a baby to stop it crying
  • Infectious disease
  • Difficult births
  • Congenital defects
  • Babies being overlain in bed
  • Infanticide to conceal pregnancy
  • and doubtless many other reasons
But, among my research, I found another interesting theory.  Some believe that the tenderness that mothers feel towards their babies is only 250 years old.  In fact, far back on the family tree, you can see wealthier parents putting their newborns out to nurse for up to two years, sickly babies being baptised as "Creature", and children being given the name of a child who died earlier (very common in my West Country families).  Children being buried just as "a young child of John Doe" - no name, nothing. 

So mothers just didn't care if their child died?  I find that a little difficult to believe.

What do you think?


© 2015 Ros Haywood. All Rights Reserved

Thursday, 9 April 2015

A-Z Challenge 2015: H is for Ha-Ha

I bet you thought I was joking, didn't you? (see what I did there: 'ha-ha'?)
Well, there actually is such a thing as a ha-ha - and it's a landscape feature.  The closest I could get to a link to genealogy was that it would have been popular among your ancestors, if they were wealthy enough.

Imagine you have a beautiful view, and a herd of cows walks straight across it and obliterates it entirely.  Well, in order to stop this sort of thing from happening, our ancestors would build a 'ha-ha', which was a sunken ditch, supported by a wall (that didn't come up so high you knew it was there).  This kept the cows out.  (Actually, my ancestors were more likely to be the peasants driving the cows...)

Nobody knows who thought of the name.

Ha Ha Wall
This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License

© 2015 Ros Haywood. All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

A-Z Challenge 2015: G is for Genealogy Do-Over

You can imagine, with a theme like Genealogy Trivia, that I have been waiting for the letter G for...oh, since the letter A...
And it seems that the genealogy community had been waiting for a Genealogy Do-Over, which was proposed by Thomas MacEntee of Geneabloggers.  Each cycle lasts 13 weeks (a quarter of a year) and you can do as many cycles as you want.  The Facebook group has over six THOUSAND members.
But what is it?  Well, the Genealogy Do-Over is  (as Thomas describes it) a "2015 educational initiative at GeneaBloggers - where you do get to go home again . . . and start over with your genealogy research."  You started by setting aside all the research you had done over the years (and braver souls than I really set it aside - like, in boxes and computer folders) and started from scratch.  Going slower, citing sources, really analyzing documents, whereas before, you grasped the one piece of info you were after, scanned the document, and put it away, never to be looked at again.

And the results? Nothing short of amazing.  Using a Research Log, writing down everything you had done so you didn't do it again twenty times because you forgot you had already done it, planning - really thinking, creating a Research Toolbox...  I added five generations to one line, went back 200 years, discovered dates and places I had missed the first time round (because I was going too fast), and - most importantly - rekindled the fascination I had for genealogy which I thought had died from boredom.

Click on the button to discover the topics for your own Genealogy Do-Over!

© 2015 Ros Haywood. All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

A-Z Challenge 2015: F is for Factory Act

http://www.a-to-zchallenge.comThe working conditions (pay and hours) of early industries were appalling.  Almost everybody has heard of the horror stories of small children being required to work 12+ hours a day in dangerous cotton mills, often without breaks, open to fevers, sometimes losing fingers, sometimes their lives (if they were not quick enough around the machinery).  And it wasn't just the cotton mills.  Little boys apprenticed to chimney sweeps were stuffed up chimneys (because they were small enough) or several families have tales of ancestors as young as six having to work in a coal mine.

So you would think that any legislation to make these conditions better would be a good thing.  Except it was profitable to have children working...But in 1833 there arose a Factory Inspectorate - and now it became more expensive to flout the Acts - because you could be fined. The 1842 Mines Act prohibited 'females and children under ten years of age' from working underground.  By 1844, these new laws extended to the better treatment of female workers in other industries, as well.

By 1878, the rules stated:
  • No child anywhere under the age of 10 was to be employed.
  • Compulsory education for children up to 10 years old.
  • 10-14 year olds could only be employed for half days.
  • Women were to work no more than 56 hours per week.
A-Z Challenge: F

© 2015 Ros Haywood. All Rights Reserved

Monday, 6 April 2015

A-Z Challenge 2015: E is for Easter Book

Try searching for this on the internet, and you will be swamped with links to children's tales, pictures of the Easter bunny, how to make a tie-dyed boiled egg - almost everything except a definition of an Easter Book.

An Easter Book, in genealogical/historical terms, was a list of all the householders in a parish - especially those liable for tithes! (one-tenth of your income)  These would be paid to the local priest at - you've guessed it! - Easter.  

As you can imagine, such a list would be very useful to a genealogist, giving names from the mid-sixteenth century to the beginning of the nineteenth.  You could also work out a) how well-off (or not) the parishioners were, and b) how well-off (or not) the parish itself was.

Great Coxwell Tithe Barn
Great Coxwell Tithe Barn
courtesy ballista

© 2015 Ros Haywood. All Rights Reserved

Saturday, 4 April 2015

A-Z Challenge 2015: D is for Dissolution of the Monasteries

The phrase 'Dissolution of the Monasteries' often conjures up images of violence, ransacking, and looting.  Yes, that did happen - but after the administrative side of the dissolution.  Just as the CEO of a chain store nowadays would prune his stores to remove the ones which were just not paying well, so King Henry VIII got rid of the monasteries which did not have enough monks, had a low income, and were generally becoming inefficient (and there were rumours of some sinful conduct, too).  This was in 1536.  Monks and nuns were pensioned off, and these monasteries were dissolved.
All very quiet and administrative.

Then, in 1538, Bury St Edmunds was looted, and in 1539-40 Cromwell sent his soldiers to back up the King's orders, because the wealthier monasteries were going a little less quietly (but there was still not much resistance).
St Joseph's Chapel, Glastonbury Abbey
courtesy Dzlinker

It was after the administrative side had taken place that the looting began.  David Hey's "The Oxford Companion to Local and Family History" states: "Lead roofs were stripped and building stone was carted away. Livestock and crops were confiscated and granges converted to farms."  Goods and chattels were supposed to be auctioned off.  Lands were transferred, plunder was sold, gentry increased their holdings.

© 2015 Ros Haywood. All Rights Reserved

Friday, 3 April 2015

A-Z Challenge 2015: C is for Corpse Way

Yes, you read it right; C is for Corpse Way - and we are talking dead bodies here.  Churchyards were attached to churches, and the deceased might have died some way away from it (but still within the parish),
A-Z Challenge: 'C'
so the coffin would have to be transported several miles, in some instances.

So 'corpse ways' started (also known as 'corpse roads', 'bier roads', 'burial roads', 'coffin roads'), and became traditional, mixed with superstition. The people who moved the body were afraid that if they went any other way, the ghost of the deceased would come back to haunt them.

Coffin Stone
Coffin stone at Grasmere; courtesy geograph.co.uk
Unless the deceased had been wealthy, the body in its coffin would have to be carried.  Large stones ('coffin stones') were placed along the route:
a) so that the coffin bearers could have a rest! and
b) so that the coffin would not touch the ground and ruin it for any future crops.

© 2015 Ros Haywood. All Rights Reserved

Thursday, 2 April 2015

A-Z Challenge 2015: B is for Badging


Have you ever seen the film 'The Scarlet Letter'?  It was adapted from the book by Nathaniel Hawthorne (written in 1850) and is about a woman who has an affair, gets pregnant, and refuses to name the father.  As
Demi Moore in 'The Scarlet Letter'
Demi Moore in 'The Scarlet Letter' (1995)
part of her punishment, she is obliged to wear a badge with a scarlet letter 'A' sewn onto every dress she has. (A for Adulteress.) Now, you may have thought this was just a romantic flight of fancy - no more than fiction.  But there was a grain of truth in it.

From 1697, individuals who were receiving poor relief from the parish had to wear a 'P' badge to show they were a pauper.

'Bawdy badges' were more like a brooch - but usually rather explicit in nature; the idea being that the Devil would be so fascinated by the bawdy badge, that the 'evil eye' would forget to look at the wearer...

If you were a pilgrim, it became quite fashionable to wear a badge to show where you had been (and it was even thought that some badges had miraculous powers).  Lionheartreplicas.co.uk states that "the most popular shrines were able to sell in excess of 100,000 badges a year, making pilgrim badges the first truly mass produced tourist souvenir."

© 2015 Ros Haywood. All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

A-Z Challenge 2015: A is for Archery

http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com/Today, archery is practised only by a few, and even then, it is considered to be a sport.  Very few people nowadays would consider a bow and arrow to be their primary weapon-of-choice.

But did you know that archery practice used to be law? or at least statutory.  (The law was revived in 1543 in case the French invaded.)  You had to practice after church on Sundays.  Not sure how I would reconcile that with 'thou shalt not kill'... Every man between the ages of 16 and 60 had to own his own bow, and it had to be as tall as he was.
Archery practice

A note here: so that men were not distracted from archery practice, certain sports were declared 'unlawful'.  The main one being football.  Honest.

© 2015 Ros Haywood. All Rights Reserved


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