Author Archive
Wordless Wednesday – Snowflake
Posted on: September 7th, 2011 by pj


Restoring this photo was a labour of love, the only photo I have of my Nan as a child, Hilda Margaret Rainbow (nee Wilkins) taken around 1914. She was dressed as a snowflake for some kind of Christmas pageant.

Czech connections
Posted on: July 16th, 2011 by pj

Edwin Rainbow (1851 - 1918)

Edwin Rainbow, my great, great grandfather, was a newspaper employee who definitely didn’t hack into mobile phones! Born 1851 in Coventry, England he served an apprenticeship as a printer before becoming a journalist, employed by several Coventry newspapers.

I discovered that during the first decade of the twentieth century he developed a passion for Bohemia (nowadays part of the Czech Republic). In between journalism and his duties as Registrar of Births and Deaths in Coventry he made frequent visits to Prague, financing his trips by writing travel and political articles for both local and national newspapers, including, I believe, The Manchester Guardian. His obituary relates that he was awarded a medal and Freedom of the City of Prague for his journalistic services, apparently helping to improve the image of Bohemia when it was receiving bad press at the time, particularly from Germany.

I have been aware that he had written several books, a tour guide of Coventry and both the official souvenir guides of Queen Victoria’s Silver and Golden Jubilees. Recently I discovered that in 1906 he co-authored a book with Jindérich Malây, about the life of Vojta Náprstek – Vojta Náprstek: A Memoir. Náprstek was a philanthropist, patriot and politician, as well as a pioneering Czech language journalist in the United States.

Vojta Naprstek

I have very little additional information about Edwin’s time in Prague except that he became friends with a man called Mr Musek who visited him in Coventry on several occasions. I would love to find more out about his trips and articles and have a feeling this will be my next ‘dog with a bone’ foray.

Music In the Yard 2011 – Cotesbach, Leicestershire
Posted on: July 15th, 2011 by pj

Looking for something to do tomorrow?

View Larger Map

Missing image #2
Posted on: July 10th, 2011 by pj

Here’s another photo from the stack I bought, abandoned in a junk shop. They all seem to have a connection to the Disney, Vesty, Taylor and/or Watson family from Loughborough, Leicestershire, UK. This guy looks like a cheeky chap, doesn’t he? Is he one of yours.

The one with the book…
Posted on: July 4th, 2011 by pj

I finally went and did it and published my book!! All the research from the last *cough* years, all down on paper…in a book! Of course, since its been written I’ve found out more information but that will have to wait for volume 2!

If you’d like to buy it first of all, thank you!! Second, click the picture below for the various options. Thirdly, thank you!!

Here’s the blurb:

“Chasing Rainbows is a layered portrait of an English family spanning a time period from the early eighteenth to the late twentieth century.  The author begins with her six time great grandfather  William Rainbow, born around 1710 in the village of  Cotesbach,  Leicestershire and traces his descendants to the present day.  This genealogical journey takes in the world of the Victorian actor, the Edwardian journalist, the Passive Resister and the gory details of a shocking crime.  We travel from farming in rural Leicestershire via silk weaving in Coventry to the USA and Australia.

This account of an ‘ordinary’ family peopled with extraordinary characters is based on primary research collected by the author during the last 25 years with the individual stories set solidly in historical context.  Written originally to organise and preserve her research Paula Jeffery’s genealogy stories took on a life of their own and her interest in history and detective work combined to produce a compelling account of family life during the past 300 years.

The journey was peppered with mysteries.  What was the motivation for a young man to run a razor across the neck of his girlfriend while she slept?  Why did a mother and daughter both die suddenly at the age of twenty-one?   (more…)

Happy New Year!
Posted on: April 26th, 2011 by pj

My new year’s resolutions were to lose weight and blog more often.  The good news is that I’ve lost 30lbs and well….one out of two isn’t bad, is it?  However, I haven’t been idle on the genealogy front.  I’ve nearly finished my book. After writing all last summer and autumn and editing during the winter, I’ve now arrived at teaching myself Adobe Indesign so I can format the pdf and send it off to  This week I’m indexing.  If you’ve never done that, trust me, it’s horrible!  But I see light at the end of the tunnel and I can’t believe I’ve actually almost finished it.

Sentimental Sunday – missing images 1
Posted on: September 19th, 2010 by pj

Reading genealogy blogs and twitter it appears that most of us hate to see old photos that have been abandoned at a flea markets or second hand shop.  There is a feeling of sadness at the sight of a box full of memories, discarded, maybe after a bereavement.  As we work through our own research we may only be lucky enough to find a few precious images of our own ancestors and can only imagine the joy of being presented with a whole box of missing images.   I think that was my motivation when,  a couple of years ago I found a big box of old photos in a second hand shop and rather than let them languish I bought them.  There are a few clues as to where they may belong, the names Disney, Vesty, Taylor and Watson are mentioned with connections to Loughborough, Leicestershire, UK.  The photos themselves are lovely; pretty girls, grand old gentlemen, family portraits, farming photos and more.  Today’s is the first in a series I’ll post in the hope of reuniting them with their family.

Disney, Vesty, Taylor and Watson

Genealogy gold at Cotesbach
Posted on: September 10th, 2010 by pj

Research and writing have been put aside during the last two weeks when present day family matters demanded attention.  However, today I’ve become re-energised after a trip to a small village on the Leicestershire/Warwickshire border.  Cotesbach is famous as the site of the Enclosure Riots; it is home to a Manor, Cotesbach Hall, an 18th century schoolhouse and today, during a Heritage Open Day it witnessed a slightly over excited family historian.  That would be me then….

I’ve planned on visiting Cotesbach for several years and for no particular reason have never got round to it until today.  It’s not as if its a long complicated trip, just a few miles down the road from home, yet it wasn’t until I noticed that the village was involved in a Heritage Open Day that I was spurred to grab my camera, a printout of my earliest Rainbows, my long suffering husband and head off down the slightly soggy, autumnal lanes of  rural Leicestershire.    The schoolroom at the Cotesbach Educational Trust was built in the late 18th century and there’s a good chance that several of my ancestors stared out of that window wishing lessons were over for the day.


Feuds and creating fantasy families with genealogy
Posted on: August 13th, 2010 by pj
What made you embark on a genealogical journey.  Was it a love of history?  Maybe the hope of finding a famous ancestor? Is it because you need to know ‘who you think you are?’  Do you view it as a ‘collecting’ hobby like stamps, gathering all that data to safely store away for future generations, or are there more complex reasons?
For me it certainly wasn’t a love of history, not initially anyway.  Over the years, as I’ve learnt about the lives of my forebears, I’ve gained an appreciation of social history if only to put their stories into some kind of context, but it wasn’t my primary interest.  Nor am I collector of dates or famous people.  I realised early on that if we go back far enough most of us will be able to find someone ‘of note’ that we are related to, just by virtue of simple maths.  As our ancestors double with every generation so, for example, going back only sixteen generations we each have 65,535 ancestors so the chances of someone amongst them being famous or royal are pretty good.
Who left what to who and why? More questions than answers with today’s research..
Posted on: August 11th, 2010 by pj
I have to admit to getting a little rush of excitement when new record collections appear online and today was no exception with the release of the National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations),1861-1941 over at  As usual I dived in with little forward planning, cherry picking the ancestors I thought would have the most interesting wills, expecting that very few would actually have the resources to make a last will and testament.  I was surprised to find that even with modest estates many had made formal plans to pass on their effects to loved ones.  Apart from the obvious information about legacies the probate calendar was able to confirm birth dates and in some cases it named relatives such as nephews that I hadn't known about.  However, it wasn't long before the questions popped up.  Why did the apparently wealthy businessman have only a few pounds to share out between his children?  Why did William Rainbow leave everything to his son and nothing to his wife?   I'm hoping that ordering the actual copies of the wills might prove more enlightening but I've been researching long enough to know that for every answer we're often left with two questions and that's probably why we like genealogy so much.

Posted via email from rainbowfamily