Tag Archives: Ancestry

St Mary of the Angels, Batley: One-Place Study Update – 1 to 30 April 2022 Additions

This is the latest update of the pages relating to my Batley St Mary’s one-place study, the details of which I announced here.

St Mary of the Angels, Batley

April saw the addition of eight new pages. Two other pages were updated.

The additions included five weekly newspaper pages for April 1916. I have accordingly updated the surname index to these During This Week newspaper pieces, so you can easily identify newspaper snippets relevant to your family.

More men who served and survived have been identified. I have updated that page accordingly. No new biographies for these men have been added this month. They will follow in due course.

I have written one biography for a War Memorial man: Lawrence Carney.

This month there are two new school log book pages. These are the ones for the Boy’s Department in 1914 and 1915.

Below is the full list of pages to date. I have annotated the *NEW* ones, plus the *UPDATED* pages, so you can easily pick these out. Click on the link and it will take you straight to the relevant page.


1. About my St Mary of the Angels Catholic Church War Memorial One-Place Study;

Batley Descriptions – Directories etc.
2. 1914: Borough of Batley – Town Information from the Annual Report of the Medical Officer of Health.

Biographies: Men Associated with St Mary’s Who Died but Who Are Not on the Memorial 
3. Reginald Roberts 
4. William Frederick Townsend

Biographies: The War Memorial Men
5. Herbert Booth
6. Edmund Battye
7. Dominick (aka George) Brannan
8. Michael Brannan
9. John Brooks
10. Lawrence Carney *NEW*
11. Martin Carney
12. Thomas Curley
13. Peter Doherty
14. Thomas Donlan
15. Thomas Finneran
16. Michael Flynn
17. Thomas Foley D.C.M.
18. Thomas Gavaghan
19. Michael Groark (also known as Rourke)
20. James Griffin
21. Michael Horan
William McManus – See William Townsend below
22. Thomas McNamara
23. Patrick Naifsey
24. Austin Nolan
25. Robert Randerson
26. James Rush
27. Moses Stubley
28. William Townsend, also known as McManus

Biographies: Those who Served and Survived (this includes a list of those identified to date and who will later have dedicated biographical pages) *UPDATED*
29. James Delaney
30. Thomas Donlan (senior)
31. Michael Rush

Burials, Cemeteries, Headstones and MIs
32. Cemetery and Memorial Details
33. War Memorial Chronology of Deaths

During This Week
34. During This Week Newspaper Index *UPDATED*
35. 1914, 8 August – Batley News
36. 1914, 15 August – Batley News
37. 1914, 22 August – Batley News
38. 1914, 29 August – Batley News
39. 1914, 5 September – Batley News
40. 1914, 12 September – Batley News
41. 1914, 19 September – Batley News
42. 1914, 26 September – Batley News
43. 1914, 3 October – Batley News
44. 1914, 10 October – Batley News
45. 1914, 17 October – Batley News
46. 1914, 24 October – Batley News
47. 1914, 31 October – Batley News
48. 1914, 7 November – Batley News
49. 1914, 14 November – Batley News
50. 1914, 21 November – Batley News
51. 1914, 28 November – Batley News
52. 1914, 5 December – Batley News
53. 1914, 12 December – Batley News
54. 1914, 19 December – Batley News
55. 1914, 24 December – Batley News
56. 1915, 2 January – Batley News
57. 1915, 9 January – Batley News
58. 1915, 16 January – Batley News
59. 1915, 23 January – Batley News
60. 1915, 30 January – Batley News
61. 1915, 6 February – Batley News
62. 1915, 13 February – Batley News
63. 1915, 20 February – Batley News
64. 1915, 27 February – Batley News
65. 1915, 6 March – Batley News
66. 1915, 13 March – Batley News
67. 1915, 20 March – Batley News
68. 1915, 27 March – Batley News
69. 1915, 3 April – Batley News
70. 1915, 10 April – Batley News
71. 1915, 17 April – Batley News
72. 1915, 24 April – Batley News
73. 1915, 1 May – Batley News
74. 1915, 8 May – Batley News
75. 1915, 15 May – Batley News
76. 1915, 22 May – Batley News
77. 1915, 29 May – Batley News
78. 1915, 5 June – Batley News
79. 1915, 12 June – Batley News
80. 1915, 19 June – Batley News
81. 1915, 26 June – Batley News
82. 1915, 3 July – Batley News
83. 1915, 10 July – Batley News
84. 1915, 17 July – Batley News
85. 1915, 24 July – Batley News
86. 1915, 31 July – Batley News
87. 1915, 7 August – Batley News
88. 1915, 14 August – Batley News
89. 1915, 21 August – Batley News
90. 1915, 28 August – Batley News
91. 1915, 4 September – Batley News
92. 1915, 11 September – Batley News
93. 1915, 18 September – Batley News
94. 1915, 25 September – Batley News
95. 1915, 2 October – Batley News
96. 1915, 9 October – Batley News
97. 1915, 16 October – Batley News
98. 1915, 23 October – Batley News
99. 1915, 30 October – Batley News
100. 1915, 6 November – Batley News
101. 1915, 13 November – Batley News
102. 1915, 20 November – Batley News
103. 1915, 27 November – Batley News
104. 1915, 4 December – Batley News
105. 1915, 11 December – Batley News
106. 1915, 18 December – Batley News
107. 1915, 23 December – Batley News
108. 1916, 1 January – Batley News
109. 1916, 8 January – Batley News
110. 1916, 15 January – Batley News
111. 1916, 22 January – Batley News
112. 1916, 29 January – Batley News
113. 1916, 5 February – Batley News
114. 1916, 12 February – Batley News
115. 1916, 19 February – Batley News
116. 1916, 26 February – Batley News
117. 1916, 4 March – Batley News
118. 1916, 11 March – Batley News
119. 1916, 18 March – Batley News
120. 1916, 25 March – Batley News
121. 1916, 1 April – Batley News *NEW*
122. 1916, 8 April – Batley News *NEW*
123. 1916, 15 April – Batley News *NEW*
124. 1916, 22 April – Batley News *NEW*
125. 1916, 29 April – Batley News *NEW*

Miscellany of Information
126. The Controversial Role Played by St Mary’s Schoolchildren in the 1907 Batley Pageant
127. The Great War: A Brief Overview of What Led Britain into the War
128. Willie and Edward Barber – Poems
129. A St Mary’s School Sensation

Occupations and Employment Information
130. Occupations: Confidential Clerk
131. Occupations: Limelight Operator
132. Occupations: Office Boy/Girl
133. Occupations: Rag Grinder
134. Occupations: Willeyer

The Families
135. A Death in the Church

School Log Books
136. Boys’ School – Log Book, 1913
137. Boys’ School – Log Book, 1914 *NEW*
138. Boys’ School – Log Book, 1915 *NEW*

Population, Health, Mortality and Fertility
139. 1914: The Health of Batley School Children Generally, with a Particular Focus on St Mary’s School Children

World War Two
140. World War Two Chronology of Deaths
141. Michael Flatley

St Mary of the Angels, Batley: One-Place Study Update – 1 to 31 March 2022 Additions

This is the latest update of the pages relating to my Batley St Mary’s one-place study, the details of which I announced here.

A selection of school log books – Photo by Jane Roberts

March saw the addition of seven new pages. Two other pages were updated.

Although March may therefore appear to have been quiet, I have been working away in the background on a new strand to the St Mary’s One-Place Study – the school. More of that later.

The additions included four weekly newspaper pages for March 1916. I have accordingly updated the surname index to these During This Week newspaper pieces, so you can easily identify newspaper snippets relevant to your family.

More men who served and survived have been identified. I have updated that page accordingly. No new biographies for these men have been added this month. They will follow in due course.

I have written one biography for a War Memorial man: Robert Randerson. A Batley rugby league player and St Mary’s school teacher, his first days at the school are also recorded in the brand new section to the study – the school log books.

These log books were kept regularly by the school – the infants, mixed and boys’ departments. They record the everyday routine of their running. Some of the entries may be mundane, register checking for example. But amidst these entries are some real gems – for example unusual incidents, disease outbreaks, school outings, and issues relating to individual school children or teachers. Interwoven through them is the religious context to St Mary of the Angels school, and how local and national events also impacted on it. They provide a snapshot of Catholic school life in a bygone time. Crucially for this study, these particular logs are not available online or in the archives.

This month there are two new pages relating specifically to these log books. The first is a general introduction. The second is the 1913 log book entries for the newly formed Boys’ Department. And it is on these pages Robert Randerson appears.

Below is the full list of pages to date. I have annotated the *NEW* ones, plus the *UPDATED* pages, so you can easily pick these out. Click on the link and it will take you straight to the relevant page.


1. About my St Mary of the Angels Catholic Church War Memorial One-Place Study;

Batley Descriptions – Directories etc.
2. 1914: Borough of Batley – Town Information from the Annual Report of the Medical Officer of Health.

Biographies: Men Associated with St Mary’s Who Died but Who Are Not on the Memorial
3. Reginald Roberts
4. William Frederick Townsend

Biographies: The War Memorial Men
5. Herbert Booth
6. Edmund Battye
7. Dominick (aka George) Brannan
8. Michael Brannan
9. John Brooks
10. Martin Carney
11. Thomas Curley
12. Peter Doherty
13. Thomas Donlan
14. Thomas Finneran
15. Michael Flynn
16. Thomas Foley D.C.M.
17. Thomas Gavaghan
18. Michael Groark (also known as Rourke)
19. James Griffin
20. Michael Horan
William McManus – See William Townsend below
21. Thomas McNamara
22. Patrick Naifsey
23. Austin Nolan
24. Robert Randerson *NEW*
25. James Rush
26. Moses Stubley
27. William Townsend, also known as McManus

Biographies: Those who Served and Survived (this includes a list of those identified to date and who will later have dedicated biographical pages) *UPDATED*
28. James Delaney
29. Thomas Donlan (senior)
30. Michael Rush

Burials, Cemeteries, Headstones and MIs
31. Cemetery and Memorial Details
32. War Memorial Chronology of Deaths

During This Week
33. During This Week Newspaper Index *UPDATED*
34. 1914, 8 August – Batley News
35. 1914, 15 August – Batley News
36. 1914, 22 August – Batley News
37. 1914, 29 August – Batley News
38. 1914, 5 September – Batley News
39. 1914, 12 September – Batley News
40. 1914, 19 September – Batley News
41. 1914, 26 September – Batley News
42. 1914, 3 October – Batley News
43. 1914, 10 October – Batley News
44. 1914, 17 October – Batley News
45. 1914, 24 October – Batley News
46. 1914, 31 October – Batley News
47. 1914, 7 November – Batley News
48. 1914, 14 November – Batley News
49. 1914, 21 November – Batley News
50. 1914, 28 November – Batley News
51. 1914, 5 December – Batley News
52. 1914, 12 December – Batley News
53. 1914, 19 December – Batley News
54. 1914, 24 December – Batley News
55. 1915, 2 January – Batley News
56. 1915, 9 January – Batley News
57. 1915, 16 January – Batley News
58. 1915, 23 January – Batley News
59. 1915, 30 January – Batley News
60. 1915, 6 February – Batley News
61. 1915, 13 February – Batley News
62. 1915, 20 February – Batley News
63. 1915, 27 February – Batley News
64. 1915, 6 March – Batley News
65. 1915, 13 March – Batley News
66. 1915, 20 March – Batley News
67. 1915, 27 March – Batley News
68. 1915, 3 April – Batley News
69. 1915, 10 April – Batley News
70. 1915, 17 April – Batley News
71. 1915, 24 April – Batley News
72. 1915, 1 May – Batley News
73. 1915, 8 May – Batley News
74. 1915, 15 May – Batley News
75. 1915, 22 May – Batley News
76. 1915, 29 May – Batley News
77. 1915, 5 June – Batley News
78. 1915, 12 June – Batley News
79. 1915, 19 June – Batley News
80. 1915, 26 June – Batley News
81. 1915, 3 July – Batley News
82. 1915, 10 July – Batley News
83. 1915, 17 July – Batley News
84. 1915, 24 July – Batley News
85. 1915, 31 July – Batley News
86. 1915, 7 August – Batley News
87. 1915, 14 August – Batley News
88. 1915, 21 August – Batley News
89. 1915, 28 August – Batley News
90. 1915, 4 September – Batley News
91. 1915, 11 September – Batley News
92. 1915, 18 September – Batley News
93. 1915, 25 September – Batley News
94. 1915, 2 October – Batley News
95. 1915, 9 October – Batley News
96. 1915, 16 October – Batley News
97. 1915, 23 October – Batley News
98. 1915, 30 October – Batley News
99. 1915, 6 November – Batley News
100. 1915, 13 November – Batley News
101. 1915, 20 November – Batley News
102. 1915, 27 November – Batley News
103. 1915, 4 December – Batley News
104. 1915, 11 December – Batley News
105. 1915, 18 December – Batley News
106. 1915, 23 December – Batley News
107. 1916, 1 January – Batley News
108. 1916, 8 January – Batley News
109. 1916, 15 January – Batley News
110. 1916, 22 January – Batley News
111. 1916, 29 January – Batley News
112. 1916, 5 February – Batley News
113. 1916, 12 February – Batley News
114. 1916, 19 February – Batley News
115. 1916, 26 February – Batley News
116. 1916, 4 March – Batley News *NEW*
117. 1916, 11 March – Batley News *NEW*
118. 1916, 18 March – Batley News *NEW*
119. 1916, 25 March – Batley News *NEW*

Miscellany of Information
120. The Controversial Role Played by St Mary’s Schoolchildren in the 1907 Batley Pageant
121. The Great War: A Brief Overview of What Led Britain into the War
122. Willie and Edward Barber – Poems
123. A St Mary’s School Sensation

Occupations and Employment Information
124. Occupations: Confidential Clerk
125. Occupations: Limelight Operator
126. Occupations: Office Boy/Girl
127. Occupations: Rag Grinder
128. Occupations: Willeyer

The Families
129. A Death in the Church

School Log Books *NEW*
130. Boys’ School – Log Book, 1913 *NEW*

Population, Health, Mortality and Fertility
131. 1914: The Health of Batley School Children Generally, with a Particular Focus on St Mary’s School Children

World War Two
132. World War Two Chronology of Deaths
133. Michael Flatley

Why Family Historians are Excited About the 1921 Census Release

Forget the New Year countdown and the return of Big Ben’s bongs this year. Instead, like many other family historians, I’m counting the days down to 6 January 2022, the day which marks 1921 census release day. Its family clues and secrets have been hidden for over 100 years. But this is the day when they will finally be revealed.

But why are family and local historians so excited? What is its background? Why is it so important for family and local history? How can you access it?

I’ll try to answer those questions in this post.


Background:
This was the census conducted in the immediate aftermath of the Great War, the Spanish flu pandemic and the introduction of voting rights for some women. It was a time of turmoil, upheaval and change.

The census was eventually taken on 19 June 1921, delayed for two months from its originally planned date of 24 April 1921, because of the state of emergency declared as a result of the coal miners’ strike.

Although care was taken to avoid holidays in the big industrial towns of the north, do be aware of the possibility the delay to the summer months may mean your family could be away from their expected residence.


What Information Will the Census Contain?

This census had the usual familiar mix of questions, but with some crucial omissions and additions from the 1911 Census. Questions included:

  • Name and Surname;
  • Relationship to the Head of Household;
  • Age – in years and (in a difference to previous censuses) completed months, with those under one month noted as such;
  • Sex;
  • Marriage or Orphanhood – For those 15 and over this means single, married, widowed or if the marriage has been dissolved. For children under under 15 this includes details about which parents are living/dead;
  • Birthplace and Nationality;
  • Personal Occupation (including attending school), Employment and Place of Work;
  • Married Men, Widowers and Widows also complete details about the number and ages of all living children and step children under 16 years of age, whether residing in the household or elsewhere.

The enumerator who collected the form was also responsible for recording the number of “living rooms” at the premises. And, for the first time, individuals in a household could also make separate confidential returns.

I’m disappointed that the so-called fertility question is missing from this census, with no information given about the number of completed years of marriage and the total number of children born within it, split between still living and dead. There question around blindness, deafness and dumbness has also gone.

But there are some big compensating questions. For example the changes to the questions around work will add a new family history component. This was introduced to find out about the travelling involved to get to a place of employment. The question around dissolved marriages is an interesting commentary about the recognition of increased availability of divorce. I am interested to see if any of my family is amongst the 16,682 people who declared themselves divorced on the returns. And, in light of the aftermath of the Great War and influenza pandemic, the recording of information for under 15s about whether both parents were alive or if either or both parents had died is a sad snapshot on the fragility of life.

If you want to familiarise yourself with the 1921 Census household form for England in advance of 6 January, you can download a copy here, courtesy of the ONS (Office for National Statistics) website.1


Why the Excitement with this Census Release?
All new major record releases are exciting. But for many the 1921 Census will be particularly special. From the poignant moment of seeing family members in a census for the first or last time, to finding out the impact the War had on family and community structures; to discovering the employment and possibly employers of their ancestors in this period of industrial strife, to where they were – and who they were with – on census night. Then there’s societal changes at the start of the Roaring Twenties, like the increase of divorce, and changes in the work of women from previous censuses. And not forgetting the inevitable disentangling of truth from mistakes and pure fiction in the entries of our ancestors – no, they were not always honest on official documents!

On the more humorous side, will there be any quirky, or protest, entries this time? And what will be the most unusual or unexpected occupation or name?

All this information, even these errors, half-truths and lies, will shed new light on the lives and characters of our ancestors – the type of information we family historians are constantly seeking.

Crucially, it is an excitement not to be repeated for another 30 years, because the next census release will not be until 2051, with the 1951 Census.

For many, this will be the last chance to experience the anticipation and thrill surrounding a census release. The highs of finding that missing piece of the family history puzzle, to simply finding out a little more about the lives of your ancestors. To the lows of will the site crash with the volume of hits?


My Census Plans
I have spent the Christmas period drawing up my family history census wish list.

I’m looking forward to the release on a personal family history level to find if my grandpa had made the move from Ireland to England at this point. If so, where was he living? And was he with family who had already made the move?

I also want to discover what various direct line ancestors and their families were doing. In particular, only three months before this census, my great grandfather died aged only 42. I want to see if there is any evidence of impact on his family. For example, were they still in the same home? Was the family still all together? Did my great grandmother have an occupation listed?

Also, being from a long line of coal mining ancestors, I want to see how many were still involved in the industry, especially given the census backdrop of a coal miners’ strike.

I have a wider interest in this census too, for my St Mary’s Batley One-Place Study. This focuses on the parish particularly in World War One, looking at not only those who served and died, but those who returned home, and the parish as a whole. I’m interested in seeing the impact both the war and the flu pandemic had on the parish population and family structures, with a particular interest in those families who had suffered war casualties. I’m also interested in any further Irish migration to the parish between 1911 and 1921. And I want to build up a bigger picture about employment in the parish. Batley was a significant textile town with the industry employing both men and women. The other major industry for the area was coal. Given this was the period of the coal miners’ strike, I want to see what impact this had on the census employment returns for the parishioners. Also, for returning military, was there a difference between their 1911 and 1921 employment? This, though, because of the scale, may be a longer-term plan based on a visit to one of the free access sites.


How Can I View the 1921 Census?
Now for the all-important administrative details about census access.

1. Who does this Census release cover?
• This release covers 38 million people in England and Wales. Technically the full scope of it is England & Wales, the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man and the Armed Forces at sea or overseas (including in the nascent Irish Free State).
2. When can you access it?
• The launch date is 00.01 GMT on 6 January 2022.
3. Where can you access it?
• Online it will be available via commercial genealogy dataset provider Findmypast. They won the National Archives digitisation contract and have exclusivity for the 1921 census for up to three years. This will be the only online provider access during this period.
• In-person access of the digital images is available at The National Archives, Kew. The census will also be available via Findmypast at the Manchester Central Library, and the National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth.
• If you are still unsure, professional genealogists (including me) are undertaking census lookups. This may prove more efficient, accurate, cost-effective and ultimately less stressful.
4. How much does it cost?
• You will be able to search the indexes on Findmypast for free. But a pay-per-view system will operate to actually view the transcripts and images. It costs £2.50 for every record transcript, and £3.50 for every original record image.
• If you are a 12-month Pro subscriber there is a 10% discount.
• Whether a transcription or image, purchasing the record of one individual will allow you to view the entire household’s census return in that purchased format. Unless that person was in an institution.
5. Can you access the 1921 Census for free?
• Yes. It will be available to view digitally at The National Archives at Kew. It is also available to view free via Findmypast at Manchester Central Library and the National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth.
6. Which countries does the release cover?
• The release applies to England and Wales.
• Indexed images of the 1921 Scottish Census will be released on http://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk and in the Scotlands People Centre, Edinburgh, in the latter half of 2022.
• The 1921 Census was not taken in Ireland due to the Irish War of Independence. Censuses in Ireland and Northern Ireland were conducted in 1926.

In addition, Findmypast has some useful information too https://www.findmypast.co.uk/1921-census

Update:
If you’re planning on going to Manchester Central Library to access the 1921 Census, the image below (posted on the Manchester and Lancashire Family History Society Facebook page) gives some important information. It’s essential pre-visit planning reading.


I’ll end this post with some snippets from Yorkshire to get you in the census mood.


The Sheffield Independent and Sheffield Daily Telegraph newspapers for 21 June 1921, reported on the case of three census wanderers. On census night, Sheffield police were tasked with searching highways and by-ways to round up those living outside. The three men, brought before the magistrates on 20 June and charged with lodging out, or wandering abroad without visible means of subsistence, included George H Jerram, of no fixed abode. He was found at 12.30am asleep in one of the Tinsley Park coke ovens with only 5d in his possession. He could not afford any lodgings.

Jerram remarked that “he was lodging out in France from August, 1914, to April, 1920,” and since coming out of the Army had only worked five weeks.”2

The Chairman discharged him, giving him the opportunity to fill out his census form.

I wonder if he will appear?


The Yorkshire Post of 21 June 1921 had a reporter going round an industrial quarter of Leeds with a census enumerator. Someone asked: “We have not put the dog on the paper. Will that be all right?

I wonder if pets will feature though, something I wrote about in an earlier census piece. Please click here if you want to read this, and the other quirky entries which have appeared in previous censuses.


However, a dismal story of unemployment and overcrowding also emerged in this Yorkshire Post piece.

  • For example, an Irish woman and her brother (both single), their brother, sister-in-law, and seven children aged 3 to 19, living in four rooms, Three of the adults were out of work;
  • A coal-hawker and a son assisting him, both out of work, two errand boy sons out of work, and five children attending school, with only one son (aged 20) working;
  • An out-of-work boot riveter, his wife and six children, ranging from 23 years old downwards, living in three rooms.

Occupants were described as being terribly afraid they would be turned out of their squalid dwellings because of overcrowding. Authority could, and did, strike fear.

In Grimsby, forms revealed in one instance five families living in four rooms; in another seven families were in one house, with a further house consisting of eight families.


The Hull Daily Mail of 21 June 1921 reported on a census conundrum regarding a baby born after midnight but before 1am (British Summer Time), the equivalent of 11pm and midnight Greenwich mean time. Was the baby born too late for the census? No definite pronouncement was made, but the assumption was the system in operation at the time, British Summer Time, would govern such questions.

I wonder if anyone does have an example of a child recorded in this census who should technically not be?


And in an example of a potential missing entry, a correspondent’s letter appeared in the Halifax Daily Courier and Guardian of 25 June 1921. Essentially, a son completed the household form for his father (the head), himself, his sister, and his sister’s three children (two grandsons and a grand daughter of the household head). They all slept in the house on census night. However, when the enumerator collected the form, he said the grandchildren should not be recorded and crossed them out. The correspondent was concerned they would not now be counted.

Again, some of us may therefore have difficulty in finding people we know should be there. It may simply be down to a mis-transcription, or not adopting the correct research strategies. But it could also really be down to an omission, or deliberate dissembling to disguise identity. This is an example where a professional researcher may be able to help.


So get ready for 6 January, and the big day in the family history world. I hope you find what you’re looking for.


Footnotes:
1. For Wales and Monmouthshire, there was an extra question for each person (over three years) on whether they spoke English and Welsh, English only or Welsh only; and for Scotland (when that is released) watch out for the extra questions about whether each person (over three years) spoke Gaelic only and also whether they were entitled to benefits under the National Insurance (Health) Acts;
2. Sheffield Independent, 21 June 1921;

Book Review: The Foundlings by Nathan Dylan Goodwin

The Foundlings is the ninth novel in the Morton Farrier Forensic Genealogist series of books by Nathan Dylan Goodwin. And I promise no spoilers in this review. Suffice it to say if you read the book you’re in for a treat!

Once more genealogist Morton Farrier’s latest investigation is a fast-paced enjoyable read with plenty of plot twists and turns along the way, keeping you guessing right to the end. Farrier’s own family history is woven into the case, which proves all the more emotionally challenging for him because it is close to home.

It’s a case in which Farrier combines traditional family history research with DNA and genetic genealogy in order to find out the parentage of three women abandoned as babies. There’s real creative skill in how the author draws together all the various strands in this multi-layered story, with shades of darkness, to build to a credible ending. And for me it’s a sign of a good book when I’m compelled to flick back through the pages once I’ve finished, to re-read those “Aha” moments whose significance I’d not realised in my first run through.

As a family historian I really appreciate this series of books because I love following Farrier’s research processes. I can relate to the various records used, both online and in archives. And I do try to guess what steps he will take. This tale introduced an ethical dimension too. That being said, you certainly do not need to be a genealogist to become immersed in the story. If you like a satisfying mystery or crime novel, especially with some history thrown in too, The Foundlings – and the previous Forensic Genealogist books – will be right up your street.

I must confess I’m already an avid fan of the Morton Farrier Forensic Genealogist series of books, so his character was not new to me. I had just finished reading The Spyglass File. It meant The Foundlings was a few jumps ahead from where I’d got to in the series. And yes, I can confirm it can be read as a stand-alone novel, though I did quickly skip the few references to his previous case so as not to give away any clues to that story. I can also confirm it is up there with the previous books in the series, which goes from strength to strength.

In summary, if you’re in to family history, crime mysteries or historical thrillers I can highly recommend this book, along with all the others I’ve read in the series.

If you’ve not read any of the previous books in the Forensic Genealogist series and want to start at the beginning to sequentially see how the character’s back story evolves, here’s the full list:

  • The Asylum – A Morton Farrier short story;
  • Hiding the Past;
  • The Lost Ancestor;
  • The Orange Lilies – A Morton Farrier novella;
  • The America Ground;
  • The Spyglass File;
  • The Missing Man – A Morton Farrier novella;
  • The Suffragette’s Secret – A Morton Farrier short story;
  • The Wicked Trade;
  • The Sterling Affair;
  • The Foundlings.

Finally, here’s the all-important purchase information for The Foundlings. I read the paperback version, ISBN-13: ‎979-8481041421, price £8.99. There is also a kindle edition. Full purchase details for this, and all the previous books in the series, can be found on Nathan Dylan Goodwin’s website.

Footnote: I was given a copy of this book by the author to preview. But if I hadn’t received a copy I would have certainly bought it – as I have all the earlier ones

Keeping Your Family History Research On Track

Do these scenarios sound familiar?

  • Halfway through a piece of research, do you realise you’ve done it before?
  • Do you get broken off from your research, or shelve it, then pick up the problem months later – but can’t recall what you’d done or where you’d got to?
  • Are you a scatter-gun researcher, flitting from one unplanned search to another, and at the end of a couple of hours you have no idea what records you’ve checked. Then go round in circles once more, repeating the same searches?

You’re not alone. But it means you’re wasting research time; you’re potentially overlooking key pieces of information; you are duplicating your efforts; and your research is unfocused. 

Which is where a research log comes in.

A log makes for efficient research, with no wasted time or duplicated effort. You can pick up a piece of research months later and know exactly what steps have previously been taken. It also means you can more easily identify gaps in your research.

In short a log keeps your research on track.

My seven key points for research logs are:

  1. Define the research objective: Set out clearly the problem, e.g. finding out the date of birth of an ancestor, or who their parents were. Include what you know through evidence, and any assumptions or conflicting information. This enables identification of issues, leading on to potential sources and search strategies
  1. Identify possible records and sources (e.g censuses, parish registers, probate records, books): These must be fully detailed including description, location(s) and type e.g. original documents, indexes, transcripts, digitised images etc.
  1. Date of the search: Archives add to their acquisitions. Records are continually being digitised and appearing online, and this includes updates to ones already online (think 1939 Register, or the GRO Indexes). So a search conducted 12 months ago may not have the same outcomes if conducted today. A date helps you decide if it’s worth repeating the search.
  1. Set out fully the search parameters: What spelling variants did you use? How many years either side of a specific date did you search? Which locations/parishes did you use? Did you rely on a data provider’s online search? Did you visually confirm results? Did you go through the record (and all the years) yourself? If a book, did you rely on the index or read the entire chapter or book? Some datasets (e.g. censuses) are on multiple websites – did you search just one? The same search on another website may have a different result. This enables you to see exactly what has been done and identify other possible areas of research.
  1. Record in detail the results – including negative ones: Fully record search results along with your analysis, conclusions and any discrepancies. This includes problems with the records, e.g. were there any gaps or record damage which might affect the result? Do ensure that the explanation is clear because it might be a while before you revisit it. And do include negative searches.
  1. Full source citations: Note where the original document can be found. Include full document reference, with page number. For website searches also include URL, description and date accessed. Give as much information as possible to enable you to find the document again. Do not assume it will always be online! 
  1. Next steps: Review your log. Identify follow-up searches. 

Your log could be electronic (do remember to back it up). Or it could be paper-based.

There are lots of pro-formas online. I have included my example above. Or perhaps you might prefer to design your own bespoke log.

And do not be put off by the thought of the time taken to keep a research log. It is minimal when compared with the time you will save in the long run from trying to remember exactly what you’ve done before, reducing the number of repeat searches and pinpointing what you have not tried.

Whatever method you use, online or paper-based, your research will benefit.

Ten Things You Wish You’d Known Before Starting Your Family History

Many will be starting their family history research in the New Year. That’s the time of year I embarked on my quest many moons ago, when my brother bought me some books as a Christmas present.

The other day I got to thinking about the mistakes I made in those early days, and the advice I wish I’d been given at the outset. Here are 10 tips I wish my younger genie had been given.

A selection of my research record books (see Goal 6)
  1. Talk to relatives…but only if they want to. Don’t push it. Not all relatives will be comfortable with this, particularly if there are skeletons in the family history cupboard. If they do agree to talk, bear in mind the memory isn’t infallible. Names, dates and events may not be recalled with total accuracy. And there may be some air-brushing to glass over uncomfortable truths.
  2. Make a note of all the sources and references for your findings. That includes the document description, location and reference number. If it was accessed via an online search, note the website address, document dataset and search date. Basically anything and everything you will need to locate it again.
  3. Make a note of all searches – negative as well as positive. It avoids unnecessary repeat searches. Note the search date. This helps with online searches. You only need to repeat when the dataset is updated.
  4. Tempting as it is, avoid the scattergun approach. Plan your research strategy. If you plan, you focus. Don’t try do everything in one go. Concentrate on one person, issue, family at a time. Define the problem, and look at which records may help. Work through methodically.
  5. Don’t accept online family trees as gospel. It’s all too easy if you’re new to family history to accept the research of others without question. Do so at your peril – you could find yourself barking up the wrong tree. Do your own research.
  6. Record your findings as soon as possible. Don’t build up a backlog. I started with a card index system which I still continue. I also now record on a family history software programme. But it could also as easily be an ancestral notebook, or downloading forms such as those available on the FamilySearch Wiki. It’s whatever works for you. The key point is you do it, so your research is up to date. you can quickly evaluate it and spot the gaps.
  7. Don’t get hung up on spellings. Literacy levels and accents all impacted. Be open-minded. Some of my family surnames have upwards of 20 spelling variations. Even Christian names could vary.
  8. By the same token be aware that your ancestors were not necessarily consistent with facts. They may have not known their exact birthday. They may have wished to bend the truth. My great grandmother lied about her age to make it appear she was closer to the age of her husband. She and my great grandfather lied in the 1911 census about the number of years they had been married, to cover illegitimacy of children. Your ancestors were human. And humans don’t always tell the truth. So when searching, build up in parameters either side of dates. Question, question, question. And refer back constantly to previous findings,
  9. Join a family history society. Consider courses. Read to expand your knowledge. Ask if you’re not sure. And accept help. We’ve all been there. And genealogists are a friendly bunch.
  10. Finally be aware – family history research could end up taking over your life. You’re never finished.

I do hope these tips help you start your research on the right track!

Family History Search Tips

I make no apologies for posting this advice. If it helps just one person it’s worth repeating it.

Here goes:

  • Do not rely on index searches and/or transcriptions – look at actual documents or digitised images of them;
  • Whenever possible use more than one genealogical dataset provider for any searches; and
  • When searching be flexible with spellings, dates, ages etc.

This was brought home to me yet again recently whilst doing my Aveyard One-Name Study.

Extracting all occurrences of the name from the 1851 census in England and Wales I used both Ancestry and Findmypast. Searching purely on Aveyard, and not including my variant surname searches, the totals were:

  • Ancestry: 206; and
  • Findmypast: 183.

Both providers had results not found by the other one.

I also looked at Haveyard. Ancestry had five results and Findmypast six.

I went through each result individually, checking against the original census images. Some proved not to be Aveyard entries at all. Even individual information within correct entries had discrepancies when checked against the image – ages, occupations, names and relationships incorrect for instance. And there was no correlation with the errors between the providers. As for the quality of images, that too varied. For some Findmypast was far superior; for others Ancestry proved more legible. And some were difficult on both.

In the end I came up with 211 genuine Aveyard/Haveyard entries. This total is purely coincidental in matching the Ancestry total. My 211 included some not found by either provider in the Aveyard/Haveyard searches, but based on my knowledge of names I knew should be there. And this total does not include the Halfyard spelling sometimes used.

To put it simply if I had used one provider for my search and not checked the images I would have replicated errors and had missing entries.

Even my 211 may be a hostage to fortune as I delve more into my Aveyard and wider ancestry, become more familiar with names which should feature based on results from other record sets, and look at broader wildcard searches.

I use this census search as an example. The same principles apply equally for any searches. Only today, finding someone in a 1939 Register search via Findmypast proved impossible. Switch to Ancestry and it was the first “hit.”

Also just because you cannot find an expected result does not mean it isn’t there. It could be simply mis-transcribed, the document could be damaged or pages may have been skipped in the digitisation process. So check the original document, especially if you are relying on one provider for your search. In fact I’d say always go through the document.

In recent weeks I’ve found burials which didn’t come up with a normal search; ships passengers missed off the search indexes; incorrect dates even down to the wrong year; and even a 1912 birth entry on the General Register Office (GRO) website which had the mother’s maiden name totally mangled. I went ahead and ordered the certificate, trusting my instincts (combined with reasoned searching and elimination). It proved the right call. The name was mis-transcribed on the main index, because the document itself had legibility issues and the name was highly unusual.

Another GRO example recently was using Findmypast marriage indexes for 1904. The page number was transcribed as 133 and their marriage finder hint came up with two suggested grooms. Looking at the image, the page number was actually 123. Using FreeBMD, a search on District, Date, Page and Volume sorted it and the correct groom was identified. Needless to say it wasn’t either of the two suggested via the Findmypast search.

The moral of the story is do not rely on indexes, transcriptions and the search algorithms of online genealogy sites; use more than one provider as it is less likely the same transcription error will be repeated on all; always check the image if at all possible; be flexible with your spellings, do not rely on what you think is the established one; and don’t accept negative search results without question.

So from one “old” genealogist, maybe by following these general principles you will have more chance of “meeting” your ancestors whilst you are alive, than in any afterlife!

Don’t it Make My Brown Eyes Blue: Don’t Trust Your Ancestors’ Records

In my last post I wrote about my major DNA breakthrough which saw both mum and I doing the genetic genealogy happy dance. That breakthrough resulted in us finding the married name of one of my grandpa’s three sisters, enabling me to trace a brief life story. The sisters all left their home in Carrowbeg near Kilkelly in County Mayo and emigrated to the Boston area of the USA between 1909 and 1922. However one ended up in Canada.

The DNA breakthrough related to the last sister to emigrate, my grandpa’s youngest sibling, Catherine. That left Bridget and Mary Callaghan still to trace.

I worked on the theory that Bridget, the eldest, was the one most likely to have ended up in Canada, on the basis that when Catherine went to Boston it was to join her sister Mary. I also used my grandpa’s mysterious postcard addressed to “Mrs Lovell, 20 Magguire St, West Villa, Maserchusatt [sic].” img_0577

Given my grandpa’s curious spelling of Maguire and Massachusetts, and the lessons of genealogy about the variations in the spelling of names, it seemed a distinct possibility that I may not necessarily be looking for Mary Lovell. And so it proved. Ancestry’s data-set of Massachusetts State and Federal Naturalization Records were the key to unlocking this mystery. Specifically the 1940 petition of housewife Mary Lavelle of 20 Maguire Court, Newtonville, Massachusetts. My grandpa’s mangling of the postcard name and address is now oh so obvious. And it is a wonderful example of not taking spellings, ANY spellings, as gospel.

Her petition matched exactly the details provide on her arrival in the USA. These included her date of arrival, 20 November 1920, and the ship, S.S. Carmania.  She spells her maiden Callaghan surname as it is pronounced, Callahan. This matches her spelling of it on arrival in Boston twenty years earlier. Her birthplace, the tiny village of Carrowbeg, or Carabeg as she records it, matches. So a couple more spelling anomalies to throw into the mix.

Her date of birth was given as 30 March 1893. Mary’s baptism record transcripts do not have her date of birth, but she was baptised at Glan Chapel on 10 April 1893.  Her officially registered date of birth in Ireland is 15 April 1893 – another case of a baptism pre-dating the officially recorded date of birth. And to add to the confusion, when Mary died the US Social Security Death Indexes have yet another date of birth for her – 7 April 1893.

The witnesses on the petition were Mary Murphy, who also lived on Maguire Street. That name gives me pause for thought – Mary’s mother’s maiden name was Mary Murphy. Is it a possible relative? However it is a very, very common name so maybe not. But the other witness was definitely a relation – none other than sister Catherine Rudolph. Well and truly tying the Callaghan sisters together.

There is also a short description of 47-year-old Mary. She is white, with a medium complexion, mixed grey hair and standing at 5ft 1½in and weighing in at 150lbs.

Mary’s naturalization petition was granted on 10 December 1940.

One other nugget of information was the details of her marriage on 29 November 1922 in Boston to Patrick Lavelle. He hailed from Letterfrack, County Galway and had arrived in the USA in 1910. He was 49 years old according to the information provided by Mary, although some of his own records show he was born on 15 February 1886, but more of that later. He became a naturalized American in 1935. According to Mary’s petition the couple had no children. So, out of the three sisters who emigrated, only one actually had a birth child. It is amazing we actually got that DNA match which unlocked this puzzle.

Mary did, however, have step-children. Patrick had been married before. When he arrived in Boston in August 1910 he left behind in Hamilton, Scotland a Scottish-born wife Sarah (née Gallagher) and three Glasgow-born children: Mary born in 1907, Nellie in 1908 and Julia Agnes in 1910. Julia and her mother joined Patrick in Boston in 1911, but it appears the two older girls grew up in Galway, Ireland. How difficult a decision must that have been? They were but toddlers. Did they ever see their parents again?

With Patrick now working a a coal teamster, two more children were born in Boston – a son, John, in 1913 and a daughter, Margaret Josephine, in 1915. Then, on 18 February 1920 tragedy struck. The Boston Evening Globe of 18 February 1920 carried the following death notice:

Lavelle – In Neponset, Feb[ruary] 18, Sarah L. Gallagher, beloved wife of Patrick Lavelle. Funeral from residence, 15 Eaton St., Friday, Feb[ruary] 20 at 8:15. Requiem services at St Anne’s Church at 9a.m.

The following month Patrick applied to become a naturalized American – and was rejected because the “petitioner lacks education“. It is this set of records which gives his 1886 date of birth. It has the wrong year for the date of birth of youngest child, Margaret, (1916 rather than 1915). There is also an earlier 1913 description of the 27 year old Patrick, at the time he declared his intention to become an American citizen. He was 150lbs, 5ft 5in with dark hair and brown eyes.

The 1930 census shows Patrick and new wife Mary living in Newtonville Avenue, Newton, MA with John and Margaret. Patrick is now working as a caretaker in a coal yard. Patrick’s age is given as 42 and Mary 36.

In 1932 and still at Newtonville Avenue, watchman Patrick once more declared his intention to become an American citizen. In this declaration he gives his date of birth as 12 January 1887. I’m getting so used to these multiple birth dates now. But more bizarrely (and somewhat impossibly) his eyes have changed colour to blue!  I really cannot make that one out. I’m not sure if that’s quite the meaning of the Crystal Gayle song “Don’t it Make my Brown Eyes Blue.” And yes, it is the same man. He still stands at 5ft 5in and has black hair, but he has put on a some timber – with his weight now up to 185lbs.

Eyes

Image courtesy of Pixabay

His petition was submitted in 1935 and this time Patrick was successful. By now the family are at 20 Maguire Court, and this is their address at the time of the 1940 census. And incidentally now Patrick is 50, so a year of birth circa 1890.

Patrick Lavelle circa 1932

Patrick Lavelle

Patrick died on 3 February 1958. Mary died on the 20 February 1981. They are buried at the Calvary Cemetery and Mausoleum, Waltham, MA. And Patrick’s year of birth etched on the headstone is……1885.

Apart from the absolute joy of tracking down my grandpa’s second sister, and learning more about US genealogy records, this particular exercise has reinforced the need to cross reference and source as many records as possible for your ancestors: because the truth of one record might not match the reality given in another. And spellings – even what we consider modern 20th century ones – do vary.

Sources

  • 1920 to 1940 US Censuses
  • 1959 Newton City Directory
  • Ancestry.com. Massachusetts, Birth Records 1840-1915, Original data: Massachusetts Vital Records, 1840–1911. New England Historic Genealogical Society, Boston, Massachusetts.
  • Ancestry.com. Massachusetts, State and Federal Naturalization Records, 1798-1950
  • Ancestry.com. Massachusetts, Passenger and Crew Lists, 1820-1963
  • Ancestry.com. Massachusetts, Death Index, 1901-1980 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2013. Original data: Department of Public Health, Registry of Vital Records and Statistics. Massachusetts Vital Records Index to Deaths [1916–1970].
  • Ancestry.com US Social Security Death Indexes 1935-2014
  • Boston Evening Globe
  • GRO Records, Ireland: Births registered at Swinford for the District of Kilkelly
  • Find a Grave via Ancestry

Irish DNA Breakthrough

Over two years ago I wrote about one of my main DNA aims: to find what became of my grandpa’s three sisters who left County Mayo for the USA in the early 20th century. The mystery of what became of the Callaghan sisters was one which nagged away at me. I knew one of them ended up in Canada via Boston, mum thinks it was Quebec Province, and married a French Canadian. Mum did not know which sister this was, but I suspected the eldest; the two younger sisters I traced to Boston, Massachusetts in the early 1920s via ships’ passenger lists.

gene-tree-1490270_1280

Image courtesy of Pixabay.com

Mum was also desperate to find out about her aunties – Bridget, Mary and Catherine/Kate, so she joined me in doing an Ancestry DNA test. We were aware the Quebec line would draw a blank DNA-wise, as mum knew this sister had no biological children and adopted a boy who at one time was in correspondence with mum’s brother who was tragically killed aged 19. Contact was lost with the Canadian branch at around this time, or so mum thinks, and she cannot ever remember hearing about the sisters in the USA.

There must have been some contact though between the USA sisters and my grandpa. I have a mysterious, unsent and undated postcard written by him and addressed to “Mrs Lovell, 20 Magguire St, West Villa, Maserchusatt [sic].”  The image is the church in which the family were baptised – Glan Chapel near Kilkelly. It seemed a logical assumption this was intended for one of his sisters, now married. Proving it was unfortunately not straightforward, in part due to my lack of experience with USA records.

Several months after submitting the DNA tests I finally had what appeared a very promising match – an extremely high confidence second/third cousin match with mum and a third/fourth with me. No tree but, correlating with other DNA matches with other testers who had trees, it seemed to be down the Callaghan line mum and I were so keen to find out about.

An initial contact with the tester confirmed the DNA match was with a descendant of grandpa’s youngest sister, Catherine. Then nothing more. After two years I had given up. Then out of the blue the other month I received another message followed by a photo of grandpa’s sister which made my mum’s day. I am not including the photo in this post – it is not mine to share. I was also given Catherine’s married name which was all I needed to find out basic details about her and introduce me to some US records in the process.

Catherine became an American citizen in 1937. Her naturalization papers confirm her birthplace as Carrabeg [Carrowbeg], County Mayo and the details correspond with those on the passenger list detailing her arrival in Boston back in 1922. In her naturalization petition she gives a date of birth of 4 September 1903. Later, her social security records amend this to 7 September 1900, which matches with the date of birth given when she was baptised on 9 September 1900 at Glan Chapel, Kilmovee Parish. Interestingly going back to Ireland for her official birth registration in Swinford, County Mayo on 27 October 1900, her officially recorded date of birth there is 7 October 1900.

Like my grandpa, the official date given is a judicious tweak to avoid a late birth registration. This is not unusual for the family, along with many others in rural Ireland. They would have found it a trek to get from their isolated Carrowbeg farm to Swinford to register the births of their children. They did it as and when they could, and amended the birth dates accordingly to avoid any penalties for failing to comply with the legal requirements of registration within 42 days of birth. I therefore take the birth date given at time of baptism for my rural Irish ancestors as the most reliable one – God before state. Their baptisms invariably take place within days of birth. Therefore I find the Callaghan family often have their baptisms pre-dating their births when comparing to officially registered birth dates!

By 1937 Catherine was living at Wellington Street, East Braintree, MA. Her naturalization papers give a brief physical description – a diminutive 5ft 3in, 122lbs with blue eyes, brown hair and a medium complexion – so no change from her 1922 passenger list description. They also state she married James E Rudolph in Boston on 29 August 1925 with a child was born around three years later. By 1937 though, she is a widow. Her husband’s birthplace is recorded as Middleborough, MA., and a date of birth is given as 23 June 1904.

A quick look at the 1930 census sees James E Rudolph, Catherine and their child living at 6 Belmont, Braintree, MA with James working as a pipe fitter. Lothrop’s Braintree Directory of 1931 lists James as Ernest, still living at 6 Belmont with wife Catherine, with the occupation of electrician. There certainly appears to be a little confusion over his name because Clarence is another variation middle name which appears in records, including census and Middleborough town records.

What is clear is Catherine’s husband died by the time of the publication of the 1935 edition of Lothrop’s Braintree Directory, with her now Wellington Street address listing her as the widow of Ja[me]s E Rudolph. The Massachusetts Death Indexes confirm a death registration year of 1935 at Weymouth, under the name of James E Rudolph. Other sources appear to indicate he died in March that year.

The 1940 census shows Catherine and her child at Wellington Street, Braintree. Life must have been a real struggle. It shows her seeking work, having been employed for only 8 weeks the previous year and earning only $20. She did have an income of $50 or more from sources other than money, wages or salary. But the fact she was seeking work is indication that this was insufficient.

By the time of her death on 1 October 1970, Catherine was residing at Hanover, MA. She is buried with her husband at Saint Francis Xavier Cemetery, Weymouth, MA. I wonder if my grandpa ever knew? He was still alive in 1970. Mum certainly cannot recall him mentioning anything.

I feel content that at least I now have some details about what became of Catherine. And mum is thrilled to have seen a photograph of her auntie. So DNA has provided the hoped for breakthrough. But that result has also led to the cracking of the postcard mystery. More to come on that in my next blog post.

Sources:

  • Ancestry.com. Massachusetts, Birth Records 1840-1915, Original data: Massachusetts Vital Records, 1840–1911. New England Historic Genealogical Society, Boston, Massachusetts.
  • GRO Records, Ireland: Births registered at Swinford for the District of Kilkelly
  • 1910 to 1940 US Censuses
  • Lothrop’s Braintree Directory 1931 and 1935
  • Ancestry.com. Massachusetts, State and Federal Naturalization Records, 1798-1950
  • Ancestry.com. Massachusetts, Death Index, 1901-1980 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2013. Original data: Department of Public Health, Registry of Vital Records and Statistics. Massachusetts Vital Records Index to Deaths [1916–1970].
  • Ancestry.com US Social Security Death Indexes 1935-2014
  • US Billion Graves via FindMyPast
  • United States Obituary Notices via FindMyPast (source Tributes.com)

The Family History Show – York 2018

As part of my 2018 New Year’s Resolutions I set myself a pleasant task to attend a variety of Family History events. The Family History Show at York Racecourse was high on my ‘must-do‘ list, as it’s around three years since my last visit. It did not disappoint.

Organised by Discover Your Ancestors Magazine and sponsored by S&N Genealogy Supplies and The Genealogist.co.uk, it has dropped “Yorkshire” from its title of years gone by. This is a reflection that, although having a distinct Yorkshire flavour, those present represent a far wider geographical spread than “God’s Own County“.

Family history societies from as far afield as Shropshire, Clwyd, Cumbria and Aberdeen were there alongside a broad cross-section of those from Yorkshire. I took the opportunity to renew my lapsed Morley Family History Group membership, as well as chatting with those on the Huddersfield & District Family History Society, Bradford Family History Society and Northumberland and Durham Family History Society stands to name but a few.

But the show goes way beyond the traditional family history societies, and includes archives, genealogy education providers, family history product suppliers, as well as book and map sellers. There are also professional organisations such as The Register of Qualified Genealogists and the Association of Genealogists and Researchers in Archives (AGRA) the latter of which I am an Associate and, as a result, I did a stint on their stand.

In this Armistice Centenary Anniversary year military exhibitors were understandably highly visible, including researchers, the Imperial War Museum (Lives of the First World War) and York Army Museum. To my delight representatives from the Green Howards Museum were there promoting their Ribbon of Remembrance Project. It was fabulous to see their exhibits, including original 1911 Militia and Volunteer registers which left me wondering what became of those named. On the other hand my husband, in trying on a 1908 German Pickelhaube, demonstrated the increased head sizes a century on. This is something I experienced in a previous job a couple of decades ago with bearskins – the frames of previous eras needed stretching to fit the heads of late 20th century guardsmen.

But the highlight of my Green Howards visit was talking about one of my Rugby League men and discovering a new photograph of him which the Museum have given me permission to use in my forthcoming book.

The MoD were there too. At the final Who Do You Think You Are? Live last year there was the hint of an imminent announcement about post-1921 Army records, with my hope this might mean digitisation in some form. I asked today and apparently this is facing obstacles which have slowed down progress, with legal issues (presumably Data Protection) playing a part. So we could be waiting a few more years yet before news on this front.

The show also featured some free talks, which I didn’t get the chance to go to because I was far too busy catching up with people. For me the opportunity to chat to folk who share my passion for family history is a now central part of attending these events.

One notable family history absentee given the current sales pitch was DNA. If it was being promoted I failed to spot it. A full list of exhibitors is here.

As per my 2015 visit findings, the show wasn’t on the huge scale of my first visit many years ago when the stands spread over several floors, including big hitters such as Ancestry and FindMyPast, and you were cheek to jowl with eager attendees. Perhaps that’s a sign of the changing times of family history research whereby the false assumption is that everything is online and there’s no value in anything beyond your keyboard, which means attendance at fairs has correspondingly declined.

However it did mean today’s offering was far more relaxed. It meant you really had the opportunity to have unpressurised conversations and find out as much as possible from exhibitors, learn what is out there and get involved in the genealogy community generally. And in my stint on a stand I certainly appreciated being able to devote full attention to those seeking information. But don’t get me wrong, there was still a steady stream of people.

I did make purchases too, including an inevitable book. No longer content with genealogical facts, I opted for a bit of family history fiction – of which any of us bitten by this bug will have frustrating experience of. But this time mine was in the form of a Nathan Dylan GoodwinForensic Genealogist” series book – so an escape from research. Now to find time to read it!