Archive for 2010
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.

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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?

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