Author Archive
Not a brick wall…a toll gate!
Posted on: July 31st, 2010 by pj
Taking a break from writing I almost absentmindedly started researching another line of my family.  I’d been reading about the genealogical value of mtDNA testing and the ‘daughters of Eve’.  Personally, although its fascinating, I’m not ready to investigate that in relation to my own genealogical research, just yet.  However, it did make me think about my mother’s line and how tracing back, mother to mother was something that hadn’t occurred to me.  Until now.
I know a lot about my maternal grandmother and I have some information about my great and even great, great grandmother.  Yesterday I found my ggg grandmother on the 1861 census.  She was living in a small village in Warwickshire her address being the ‘Toll Gate’;  occupation ‘Toll Collector’.  (more…)
The first line of a book is important.
Posted on: July 13th, 2010 by pj
Those few words are what all the 'how to write a bestseller' authors will tell you are the ones that suck the reader in, grab their attention and set the tone and style for the remaining 50,000 or so words.

I had a great opening line for this book.

"My grandfather was born in a register office"

It seemed just about perfect for the beginning of a book about family history.  What a pity it's not true.  The line that got away.  I feel like a fisherman, "No honest, it was THIS good".


No genealogist should be without one..or Monday madness
Posted on: June 28th, 2010 by pj
It’s character building to have a thespian in your ancestry.  Trust me.  My acting ancestors have made me laugh, cry and tear my hair out in frustration and it has nothing to do with their professional abilities!  As part of the Monday madness meme over at Geneabloggers let me share my adventures tracking down my favourite board-treader who’s driven me nuts over the years.Several factors contribute to the difficulties in searching for Victorian actors.  Using a stage name is the most obvious. Professional name and ‘real’ surname for some appear to have been interchangeable on official documents seemingly at whim.  Then there is mobility.  Theatre actors didn’t often stay in the same venue for more than a few weeks at a time which, if they had a fairly common name, makes looking for them on a census a long winded process.  If you do manage to track them down they’re often listed at the end of the household as ‘Vistor’ or ‘Boarder’ on their own and the link broken to the rest of their family.  As if that wasn’t bad enough there are the age discrepancies.  Of course that can be a problem with any ancestor, transcription errors and mistakes occur regularly but with actors we have the added complication of a desire to appear a different age to their actual age.  Usually younger. (more…)
A personal question for genealogists….
Posted on: June 19th, 2010 by pj
Are you boring?  Okay that was rude, of course you’re not!  Let me rephrase that.  Do members of your family suddenly find something urgent they have to do right now as you begin to tell them about your latest census find?  Do their eyes glaze over when you show them a photo of their great great grandmother’s grave?  Do you ever find yourself getting frustrated that part of your interest in genealogy stems from a desire to pass on your research to younger members of your family and NOBODY is interested?One solution is to write a book and let those frustrations just wash away.   I know it seems like a mammoth task but think about it.  You already have a lot of the basic information, the stories and the photos.  Imagine you’re writing it for a descendant yet to be born who develops a passion for genealogy.  It doesn’t have to be the best written book in the world either.  (more…)
Wordless Wednesday
Posted on: June 16th, 2010 by pj

Margaret Ellen Cowley (1873-1963)

What about you?
Posted on: June 15th, 2010 by pj
So you’ve decided to write up your family history are you going to include a piece about you? When I was a child my granddad told me that an ancestor had researched our family history. Recently I’ve narrowed this down to one Amy Alice Watts Rainbow, a schoolteacher, but all I’ve found, so far, is a sketchy family tree. I know nothing about the woman herself or her interest in genealogy. How wonderful it would be to find an account of her life and how she went about her research. So with this in mind I’m going to grit my teeth and write something about me as an addendum to my family history book. It seems trivial and tedious compared to stories of the ancestors but maybe in 100 years… get the picture?

Posted via email from rainbowfamily

Genealogy art
Posted on: June 13th, 2010 by pj

A few years ago I started experimenting with how to present genealogy in something other than a family tree and I combined ‘altered art’ – using an old book, with digital scrapbooking and artist’s trading cards to come up with this:

I found an old book about gardening which seemed the right size and removed some of the pages. I glued the rest of the pages together and to the back board, I then cut out a niche.
I covered the book with mulberry paper, green on the exterior and cream on the interior. I glued aged lace, a photo in a found frame and a buckle. The buckle serves to keep the book closed and to keep the cards in.

I covered the niche and containing page with black lace fabric leaving it to overlap and covered the niche with burgundy crinkled satin-type fabric. I glued a matching ribbon to one side to make it easier to extract the cards.

I glued scraps of tissue newspaper, mulberry paper, a torn photo and a skeleton leaf to the inside front cover.

I made the ATC cards using digital scrapbooking techniques and a mini-book set from

Victorian soldiers were tough!
Posted on: June 7th, 2010 by pj

I’ve found a couple of Victorian soldiers in my line, so far and today I’ve been researching conditions.  In a word, grim!  Pay was 1s 1d a day (about 5.5p) and out of that they had to pay for food (about 6d/2.5p), uniform and its upkeep, medical expenses and any damages incurred to their accommodation.  Barracks were horribly overcrowded, badly lit and heated.  Rations were 1lb of meat and 1lb of bread a day, little or no vegetables or dairy produce.  Monotonous and ultimately unhealthy.  There was a lot of sickness.

Edwin Rainbow, 1851 – 1918
Posted on: June 7th, 2010 by pj

Edwin was born in Coventry, youngest child of James and Sarah.  Journalist and Registrar of Births and Deaths in Coventry.

New start…
Posted on: March 24th, 2009 by pj

Finally I’ve found some time to resurrect the website after a data disaster in 2008.  Please bear with me as I upload pictures and generally tidy the database. Please use the links in the sidebar to search the data.

In other news I’m planning to write a book about the Rainbow side of my family tree based on 30 years of research and I’ll be using this blog to document my progress and share information.  Please feel free to comment on or query any of the information you find here.  I’d love to hear from other Rainbow researchers.