Ancestry.co.uk Blog http://blogs.ancestry.com/uk The official Ancestry.co.uk blog Wed, 15 Oct 2014 22:56:37 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.5.2 Guest list for WWI centenary events with Sir Tony Robinsonhttp://blogs.ancestry.com/uk/2014/08/18/guest-list-for-wwi-centenary-events-with-sir-tony-robinson/ http://blogs.ancestry.com/uk/2014/08/18/guest-list-for-wwi-centenary-events-with-sir-tony-robinson/#comments Mon, 18 Aug 2014 09:06:36 +0000 Brian Gallagher http://blogs.ancestry.com/uk/?p=4791 We’d like to thank everyone who applied to be on the guest list for our upcoming series of centenary themed family history events featuring Sir Tony Robinson.     The deadline has now closed for the dates in Brighton, Liverpool and Chelmsford and guests have been selected at random. Those who were successful have now… Read more

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We’d like to thank everyone who applied to be on the guest list for our upcoming series of centenary themed family history events featuring Sir Tony Robinson.

 

0_TonyTour_400x400_July

 

The deadline has now closed for the dates in Brighton, Liverpool and Chelmsford and guests have been selected at random. Those who were successful have now been notified by email.

 

Due to the larger capacity of the Newcastle venue, we still have some spaces available for Wednesday 24 September 2014 at the Discovery Museum.  As such, the deadline for registration to this event has been extended until Friday 22 August 2014.

 

The evening will see Sir Tony share his top tips and fascinating thoughts on family history as well as discussing the importance of remembering our wartime ancestors in the centenary year.

 

Click  here to register your details for the Newcastle event only and we will let you know if your application has been successful by Monday 25 August 2014.

 

If you have already applied for tickets for the Newcastle event – don’t worry you are still eligible for the ballot and will be notified via email following the close of the extended deadline.

 

Event details

 

Tuesday 26 August, 6pm – 9pm – East Sussex Record Office (REGISTRATION CLOSED)

 

Thursday 4 September, 6pm – 9pm  Liverpool Record Office (REGISTRATION CLOSED)

 

Monday 22 September, 6pm – 9pm –Essex Record Office (REGISTRATION CLOSED)

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Sir Tony marks WWI centenary with a series of exclusive family history events.http://blogs.ancestry.com/uk/2014/08/07/sir-tony-marks-wwi-centenary-with-a-series-of-exclusive-family-history-events/ http://blogs.ancestry.com/uk/2014/08/07/sir-tony-marks-wwi-centenary-with-a-series-of-exclusive-family-history-events/#comments Thu, 07 Aug 2014 16:01:34 +0000 Brian Gallagher http://blogs.ancestry.com/uk/?p=4780   We are excited to announce that actor, author, historian and Ancestry.co.uk spokesperson Sir Tony Robinson will be hosting a series of exclusive family history events to mark the WWI centenary.   Sharing his fascinating perspective on history, Tony will be visiting local archives in Liverpool, Essex, Newcastle upon Tyne and East Sussex (full event… Read more

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We are excited to announce that actor, author, historian and Ancestry.co.uk spokesperson Sir Tony Robinson will be hosting a series of exclusive family history events to mark the WWI centenary.

0_TonyTour_400x400_July

 

Sharing his fascinating perspective on history, Tony will be visiting local archives in Liverpool, Essex, Newcastle upon Tyne and East Sussex (full event details below).

 

With 2014 being the 100-year anniversary of WWI, Tony will discuss the importance of remembering our wartime ancestors, highlight some of the extensive military record collections available online at Ancestry.co.uk and help inspire local residents to uncover the war hero in their own family tree. He will also talk about his own family links to the Great War.

 

Each evening will begin with an introduction from a representative from the archive, followed by a brief talk from an Ancestry family history experts. Guests can then enjoy a speech and Q&A session with Sir Tony himself. There will of course be drinks and nibbles served too.

 

And did we mention that the events are completely free? Spaces at each venue are limited and will be allocated at random. Click here to register your details.

 

Spaces at these exclusive events will be in demand and entry closes at midnight on 14th August so make sure you get your application in ASAP. We will let you know if your application for a space on the guest list has been successful by 15th August 2014.

 

We look forward to seeing you there!

 

Event details

 

Tuesday 26 August, 6pm – 9pm

The Keep, Woollards Way, Brighton, BN1 9BP

 

Thursday 4 September, 6pm – 9pm

Liverpool Central Library, William Brown Street, Liverpool, Merseyside L3 8EW

 

Monday 22 September, 6pm – 9pm

Essex Record Office, Wharf Rd, Chelmsford, Essex CM2 6YT

 

Wednesday 24 September, 6pm – 9pm

Discovery Museum, Blandford Square, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 4JA

 

 

 

*Terms and conditions apply: Guests can register online for each event from today (08.08.14) up until midnight on 14.08.12. Guests will be notified of their success via email and need to RSVP by 18.08.14 otherwise their tickets will be reallocated. Guests are responsible for their own transport to and from the events. Ancestry reserves the right to cancel or change the location of the events and in such cases will endeavour to provide Guests with prior notice. By entering the ballot you consent to Ancestry using the personal information you provide to us for administrative purposes relating to the ballot.

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Does This Make Angelina Jolie Kate Middleton’s Fairy Godmother?http://blogs.ancestry.com/uk/2014/06/10/does-this-make-angelina-jolie-kate-middletons-fairy-godmother/ http://blogs.ancestry.com/uk/2014/06/10/does-this-make-angelina-jolie-kate-middletons-fairy-godmother/#comments Tue, 10 Jun 2014 17:26:53 +0000 Paul Rawlins http://blogs.ancestry.com/uk/?p=4720 Ancestry discovers Malificent star Elle Fanning is related to the Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton While anxiously waiting for the release of the movie Maleficent (a “Sleeping Beauty” origin story about the malevolent fairy, in case you haven’t heard), film buffs Ancestry.ca have discovered that Elle Fanning has more in common with the character she… Read more

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Ancestry discovers Malificent star Elle Fanning is related to the Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton

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While anxiously waiting for the release of the movie Maleficent (a “Sleeping Beauty” origin story about the malevolent fairy, in case you haven’t heard), film buffs Ancestry.ca have discovered that Elle Fanning has more in common with the character she portrays, Princess Aurora, than she may have thought. Fanning is actually the 22nd great-granddaughter of King Edward III, making her a long-lost princess. Her connection to King Edward III, who ruled from 1327-1377, makes Fanning of royal blood, a princess both on and off the big screen.elle lineage

If Fanning’s newly uncovered title of princess wasn’t enough, it turns out she has a second tie to the royal family. The actress is also a relative of Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge. They both share a connection to King Edward III, the grandson of King Edward I also known as “Edward Longshanks.”

“It’s exciting when art imitates reality, and Elle’s storied family history adds another layer of magic to her portrayal of Aurora,” said Michelle Ercanbrack, a family historian for Ancestry. “Whether it’s royals or villains, there’s a story in every family tree, and you’ll never know what you might discover unless you look.”

While looking into Fanning’s family tree, researchers uncovered another magical connection. According to historical records, Fanning’s 2nd great-grandmother Mamie (Ozburn) Odum was known as the “Sunshine Lady” — a woman known for spreading good cheer. She was also a collector of unique antiques, including glass slippers, a central totem from another classic fairy tale, “Cinderella.”

With such a strong royal lineage, and a great-grandmother who may have been her generation’s fairy godmother, the starlet was a natural fit to play the part of Princess Aurora.

Wondering if you may be a long-lost prince or princess? Search and find out at Ancestry. Start free trial.

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What Can Your Surname Tell You?http://blogs.ancestry.com/uk/2014/06/09/what-can-your-surname-tell-you/ http://blogs.ancestry.com/uk/2014/06/09/what-can-your-surname-tell-you/#comments Mon, 09 Jun 2014 22:35:30 +0000 wexon http://blogs.ancestry.com/uk/?p=4724 At least for purposes of research, just about every genealogist rues the ancestor whose last name is common, and therefore hard to trace, and rejoices in their ancestors with more unusual names. While an unusual surname undeniably can make genealogical research easier, it doesn’t corner the market on interesting and informative origins. In Western Europe,… Read more

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At least for purposes of research, just about every genealogist rues the ancestor whose last name is common, and therefore hard to trace, and rejoices in their ancestors with more unusual names. While an unusual surname undeniably can make genealogical research easier, it doesn’t corner the market on interesting and informative origins.

In Western Europe, surnames first came about in Medieval times as civilizations grew larger and it became necessary to distinguish between people.

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Sometimes, names were based on occupation: a blacksmith may have been “John le Smith” (John the Smith) which became, over the generations, “Smith,” and a person named Appleby lived by or tended the apple orchard. Celebrity Robin Leach’s ancestor was probably a physician (because in medieval times, physicians used leeches to bleed people). Actor Christopher Reeve’s ancestor, the one to first take the surname, was most likely a sheriff, and Sarah Jessica Parker’s early medieval ancestor probably tended a park.

Other surnames were based on location: an Acker, which comes from “acre,” lived near a field, and a Hall lived in or worked in a hall of a Medieval nobleman’s house. And it doesn’t take much imagination to figure out what a forebear named Young or Strong or Gray looked like.

Higher social status surnames are more rare today — how many Rothschilds (from the German “red shield”) did you go to school with? — and lower status ones fairly common. Lower social status people were also sometimes given unfortunate names by others, such as “Tew” (Welsh for “fat”) or “Dullard,” which means a hard or conceited man.

And in many parts of the world surnames derived from men’s names. A person named Robertson is descended from someone who was the “son of Robert,” and a MacDonald is from a Scottish “son of Donald.” Armenian names of this sort generally end in “-ian,” Polish ones in “-ski,” and Irish ones are put together a little differently, starting with the prefix “Fitz-.”

In Spanish-speaking parts of the world, people often take both their mother and father’s surnames. And some families still use family or “house” names that are not surnames at all, like the royal Windsors or Plantagenets.

Asian surnames have different stories. Most of the approximately 100,000 Japanese surnames in use today only date from 1868 and the Meiji Restoration, when surnames were mandated for the first time. There are just a few hundred common Chinese surnames, and 20 of them (which reflect an entire clan or were adopted by nobles) are shared by half the population. There are about 250 Korean surnames, three of them comprising almost half the Korean population, and just about 100 Vietnamese ones, with three making up 60 percent of all names in that country.

More than 2,600 members at the UK-based Guild of One-Name Studies devote their genealogical research to about 8,400 “one-name studies,” meaning they study everything known about a particular surname, whether the people they research are related biologically or linked to other family trees they are studying. Focusing in on a family surname can be a useful way to break through a genealogical brick wall, and most guild members are easy to reach and willing to share information (generally they ask, in return, for you to share your data on a name).

Name distribution of Duffield families. (Ancestry.com)

Name distribution of Duffield families. (Ancestry.com)

Plugging your surname of interest into the Ancestry.com Last Names Meanings And Origins widget gives an interesting and useful overview, too. Plug in the surname “Duffield” and you see it’s English, a “habitational name from places in Derbyshire and East Yorkshire, so named from Old English Dufe ‘dove’ + feld ‘open country.’” The results page shows what records Ancestry.com holds for the name Duffield and a “name distribution” of Duffield families through the years, as automatically generated by Census records.

Slide a bar and a map shows how families with that surname moved through space (in this case, England, Wales, and the U.S.) and time (from 1840 to 1880 and 1920). In addition, there’s an overview of occupations the family has held, immigration and Civil War service records, and links to pertinent threads from message boards.

Discover the surnames and stories in your family. Start free trial.

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King George’s Answer to the White Feather: World War I’s Silver War Badgehttp://blogs.ancestry.com/uk/2014/04/16/king-georges-answer-to-the-white-feather-world-war-is-silver-war-badge/ http://blogs.ancestry.com/uk/2014/04/16/king-georges-answer-to-the-white-feather-world-war-is-silver-war-badge/#comments Wed, 16 Apr 2014 22:24:39 +0000 Paul Rawlins http://blogs.ancestry.com/uk/?p=4675 The British Empire lost more than 700,000 service personnel in World War I, and almost three times that many were discharged because of wounds or illness that left them physically unfit for service. The service and sacrifice of more than 800,000 of these men—and women—is recognized in the collection of Silver War Badge Records, 1914–1920, now… Read more

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silver war badgeThe British Empire lost more than 700,000 service personnel in World War I, and almost three times that many were discharged because of wounds or illness that left them physically unfit for service. The service and sacrifice of more than 800,000 of these men—and women—is recognized in the collection of Silver War Badge Records, 1914–1920, now on Ancestry.

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In September 1916, King George V authorized the Silver War Badge (SWB) to honor all military personnel who had served at home or overseas since 4 August 1914 and who had been discharged because of wounds or illness. The SWB was a small, circular badge made of sterling silver that bore the king’s initials, a crown, and the inscriptions ‘For King and Empire’ and ‘Services Rendered’. The badge could also be worn by personnel who were discharged because of age. 

The SWB was not simply an honor; it also served a practical purpose. At the time, men of military age in England who were not obviously in the service were sometimes accosted or insulted by civilians presenting them with white feathers—a symbol of cowardice—for shirking their patriotic duty. The badge, which was worn with civilian dress, served as an outward symbol that the wearer’s duty to country had been honorably fulfilled.

Downton Abbey’s second season featured an episode where two ‘white feather girls’ crash a war fund raiser hosted by the Crawleys. When one of the girls presents a white feather to Branson, he tells her,

‘I’m in uniform.’

To which the girl replies,

‘Wrong kind.’

 

One ‘coward’ who didn’t receive the white feather was renowned playwright Noël Coward, who served in the Artists Rifles and is listed on the Silver War Badge rolls:

 

noel name swb

 

Thousands of women appear on the rolls as well. Florence May Hall, Ella Madeline Randall, and Beatrice May Pickard all served overseas in the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps, which provided cooking, mechanical, clerical, and other support services. Their record indicates that they served overseas.

 noel page swb

 

Jane E. Harvey (Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service) and Florence Rudd (Territorial Force Nursing Service) both served as nurses.

 SWB nurses

 

One thing to keep in mind as you search for your own WWI ancestor. Millions were wounded in the war—some, like J.R.R. Tolkien, so severely that they never did return to the front—but unless they were discharged, they won’t be on the Silver War Badge rolls.

The Silver War Badge rolls have always been a valuable resource, but they were not organized alphabetically and not easily searchable by name—until now. The Silver War Badge Records, 1914–1920, database brings a generation of heroes home for you to discover.

 

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Cecil, Bertha and Gertrude — Britain’s ‘Endangered’ Names Revealedhttp://blogs.ancestry.com/uk/2014/04/10/cecil-bertha-and-gertrude-britains-endangered-names-revealed/ http://blogs.ancestry.com/uk/2014/04/10/cecil-bertha-and-gertrude-britains-endangered-names-revealed/#comments Thu, 10 Apr 2014 19:01:36 +0000 Paul Rawlins http://blogs.ancestry.com/uk/?p=4660 Analysis of millions of birth records from 1905 to the present day shows some first names that are disappearing or virtually extinct.  Many of the nation’s most traditional names are at risk of dying out according to a report released today by family history website Ancestry, which reveals forenames that have virtually disappeared over the… Read more

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The Children's Corner, Bournemouth (image from Ancestry.co.uk Historical Postcards Collection)

The Children’s Corner, Bournemouth (image from Ancestry Historical Postcards Collection)

Analysis of millions of birth records from 1905 to the present day shows some first names that are disappearing or virtually extinct. 

Many of the nation’s most traditional names are at risk of dying out according to a report released today by family history website Ancestry, which reveals forenames that have virtually disappeared over the last 100 years and many more that have become ‘endangered’.

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Three categories of names are detailed in the study, which was compiled by comparing the popularity of forenames from 1905 to now through Ancestry’s extensive birth record collections. The most ‘critical’ names on the list are those that have seemingly disappeared (by not being selected for new babies) and include Gertrude, Bertha and Blodwen for girls and Willie, Cecil and Rowland for boys.

Many more are labelled ‘endangered’, having fallen drastically in popularity for newborns today despite being among the top 100 names in 1905. Examples include Norman, Horace and Leslie for boys and Doris, Hilda and Edna for girls.

Lastly there are those that, while still being selected, are significantly less common and tend to dip in and out of fashion — identified as ‘at risk’. Such names for boys are Cyril, Arnold and Bernard and include Mildred, Dorothy and Lilian for girls.

Many popular names from the early 20th century have also evolved to their shorter form, which has replaced their previous name in popularity. Termed the ‘Alfie effect’, this trend has seen Freddie replace Frederick, Archie overtake Archibald and Charlie become far more popular now than Charles. The same applies to girls’ names, with Lexi replacing Alexandra, Sophia making way for Sophie and Ellie overtaking Eleanor.

The analysis also showed far more girls’ names disappearing or ‘at risk’ than boys — thought to be because many men’s names are passed on from father to son, whereas mothers’ names are more likely to be selected as middle names, rather than forenames, for daughters.

Surprisingly perhaps, many of the most popular names of 1905 remain common today, perhaps driven by the fact that one in three parents (34 per cent) choose their child’s name to commemorate an ancestor. Such names include Lily, Hannah and Lydia for girls and Alan, Patrick and Joe for boys.

Finally, a number of older names have grown in popularity or become fashionable recently, overtaking the level of popularity seen in the early 1900s. Oliver, Charlie and Jacob fall into this category, as do Amelia, Grace and Isabella.

Miriam Silverman, UK Content Manager, from Ancestry comments: “Of course, no first name can truly become extinct, as it can easily be resurrected, but it’s fascinating to look at the list from 1905 and see which have thrived and which have faded into obscurity.

“We also know that people appreciate a rare or unusual name in their family tree and as more people join the family history revolution we believe that such endangered names will be protected by concerned descendants.”

 

Full list of Endangered Names

‘Extinct’ (None recorded in latest birth records)

Male — Cecil, Rowland & Willie

Female — Bertha, Blodwen, Fanny, Gertrude, Gladys, Margery, Marjorie & Muriel

 

Endangered (have fallen in prevalence by 99% since 1905)

Male — Clifford, Horace, Harold, Leslie & Norman

Female — Doris, Edna, Ethel, Hilda, Marion & Phyllis

 

At risk (have fallen in prevalence by 98% since 1905)

Male — Arnold, Bernard, Clarence, Cyril, Ernest, Fred, Herbert, Percy, Roland, Sydney, Trevor & Walter.

Female — Ann, Dorothy, Eveline, Freda, Gwendoline, Irene, Jane, Janet, Jennie, Lilian, Lizzie, Margaret, Mary, Maud, Mildred, Nellie, Rhoda & Winifred

 

Booming traditional names (risen in popularity since 1905)

Male — Christopher, Harry, Sam, Samuel, Louis, Evan, Owen, Louie, Michael, Reuben, Benjamin, Matthew, Lewis, Jack, Alexander, Daniel, Isaac, Jacob, Charlie, Oliver

Female — Amelia, Charlotte, Daisy, Eleanor, Eliza, Emily, Eva, Grace, Harriet, Isabel, Isabella, Leah, & Lucy

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Titanic Mystery Solved with DNA Testinghttp://blogs.ancestry.com/uk/2014/03/20/titanic-mystery-solved-with-dna-testing/ http://blogs.ancestry.com/uk/2014/03/20/titanic-mystery-solved-with-dna-testing/#comments Thu, 20 Mar 2014 18:24:07 +0000 wexon http://blogs.ancestry.com/uk/?p=4643 DNA solved a 70-year-old question of whether Loraine Allison survived the Titanic crash. Many have wondered what happened to the two-year-old little girl who disappeared from the crash more than 100 years ago. The story begins with Hudson and Bess taking their two kids, Trevor, seven months, and Loraine, two years of age, across the… Read more

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DNA solved a 70-year-old question of whether Loraine Allison survived the Titanic crash. Many have wondered what happened to the two-year-old little girl who disappeared from the crash more than 100 years ago.

The story begins with Hudson and Bess taking their two kids, Trevor, seven months, and Loraine, two years of age, across the Atlantic on the Titanic. At the time of the sinking, it is said that Trevor was rushed to a lifeboat by their maid and that the other three died on the boat. However, only Hudson’s body was found, leaving the mystery of what happened to Loraine and her mother.

    The New York City Herald covered the sinking tragedy on April 16, 1912. (Credit: Library of Congress)

    The New York City Herald covered the sinking tragedy on April 16, 1912. (Credit: Library of Congress)

    The unknown remained until 28 years later when Helen Kramer came forward on a radio show called “We the People”, and said that she was the two-year-old missing girl. Only a few of the distant relatives believed her story, but immediate family members denied the claims and kept her out of the inheritance.

    When Helen died in 1992 the claims seemed to have died with her. However, in 2012 the granddaughter of Helen, Debrina Woods, resurfaced the claims by saying she had inherited more evidence from her grandmother and that the truth should be told.

    With all of this evidence, and with a desire to solve this case, a group of Titanic researchers put together a project to help unlock the mystery.

    They did just that, by convincing descendants from each family to have a DNA test done.

    The results from the tests show that there is not a relationship between the two families, suggesting that this was a hoax or a complete misunderstanding.

    We don’t want to downplay the tragedy of this story to those involved but rather highlight that we have a tool that will help us unlock the mysteries of our past with DNA testing.

    This isn’t the first time DNA has helped provide evidence to disprove a connection to a historical claim. DNA testing disproved Anna Anderson’s claims that she was Anastasia, the youngest daughter of the Russian Tsar, Nicholas II. Similar to the Kramer story, researchers found multiple people from both sides of the family in question and had them take a DNA test. No DNA was shared, disproving a relationship.

    What questions have you always wondered about in your family?

    Discover your family story. Start free trial.

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    Teachers, Window Cleaners, and Textile Workers Make the Bravest British Soldiershttp://blogs.ancestry.com/uk/2014/03/20/teachers-window-cleaners-and-textile-workers-make-the-bravest-british-soldiers/ http://blogs.ancestry.com/uk/2014/03/20/teachers-window-cleaners-and-textile-workers-make-the-bravest-british-soldiers/#comments Thu, 20 Mar 2014 18:13:12 +0000 Paul Rawlins http://blogs.ancestry.com/uk/?p=4618 Analysis of 2.8 million WWI medal records uncovers the UK’s bravest occupations If you’re sharing a foxhole (or a trench) on the battlefield, who do you want in there beside you? Turns out, your child’s primary school teacher or the bloke cleaning the windows at your office might increase your odds of survival. Teachers, window… Read more

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    WWI trenchAnalysis of 2.8 million WWI medal records uncovers the UK’s bravest occupations

    If you’re sharing a foxhole (or a trench) on the battlefield, who do you want in there beside you? Turns out, your child’s primary school teacher or the bloke cleaning the windows at your office might increase your odds of survival.

    Teachers, window cleaners, and cotton workers have been identified as the UK’s bravest professions—or they were during the Great War at least.

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    These findings, from Ancestry, were revealed after researchers analysed 2.8 million British Army WWI Service Records, 1914-1920. Each service record provides a detailed account of a soldier’s time in the field, including their unit, where they served, promotions or awards, and the date and place of any illness or injuries.

    These records highlight how ordinary men with everyday backgrounds and hardly any military training risked their lives on the front lines during the First World War.

    To identify the bravest professions, researchers recorded the pre-war jobs of hundreds of Distinguished Conduct Medal, Meritorious Service Medal, and Victoria and Military Cross winners and then cross-referenced this information with the total number of males employed in the same professions in the 1911 Census.

    Whilst the majority of medal winners were miners or agricultural labourers, by comparing occupations of medal recipients with 1911 Census data, researchers were able to establish which professions had the highest proportions of medal winners. When they looked at how many heroes per hundred professionals appeared in the medal data, teachers, window cleaners, and cotton [mill] workers came out top.[i]

    Fishermen and doctors came next, at numbers four and five, whilst servants ranked number six. Barbers and merchants also made the list, followed closely by policemen and finally bankers.

    Some examples of heroic WWI soldiers previously employed in these industries include

    Frederick Youens, VC—Student Teacher. High Wycombe-born Youens received his Victoria Cross whilst trying to protect a Lewis gun team from enemy bomb attack. Unfortunately, he was fatally injured in the process and received his medal posthumously. Before the war, Youens had been a student teacher in his native Buckinghamshire.

    Alfred Robert Wilkinson, VC—Cotton Operative. Wilkinson, born in Leigh in Lancashire, received his Victoria Cross after delivering a message to a supporting company, even though his journey involved exposure to heavy machine gun and shell fire. Before the war, Wilkinson was a piecer, repairing broken threads in spinning machines.

    Joseph Watt, VC—Fisherman. Watt, who was born in Scotland, received his Victoria Cross following a naval engagement with three Austrian Rapidkreuzers. After being shot at by the enemy, Watt came to the aid of his drowning comrades whose ships had been sunk and rescued a number of men. Before the war, Watt worked as a fisherman in Aberdeenshire.

    As well as those employed in the top 10 brave professions, researchers also identified some equally heroic servicemen whose pre-war jobs were slightly more unusual:

    William Angus, VC—Professional Footballer. Scottish born Angus received his Victoria Cross after leaving his trench under heavy enemy fire to rescue an injured officer. Despite receiving 40 serious wounds, he survived and was awarded his medal in August 1915. Pre-war, Angus was a professional footballer with Celtic FC.

    Edward Warner, VC—Straw-Hat Finisher. Warner received his Victoria Cross posthumously after singlehandedly holding a gassed trench to stop the enemy entering and saving the lives of numerous comrades in the process. Born in St Albans, Warner was previously employed as a straw-hat finisher.

    Jack White, VC—Waterproofer. Born in Leeds, White worked in his family’s Waterproofing business before enlisting in 1914. He received his Victoria Cross medal after towing a boat of injured and dying men to safety after being caught in enemy fire.

    Even after signing up, some soldiers still managed to find a good use for their pre-war occupations. A diary entry from Captain Bruce Bairnsfather details the Christmas truce of 1914 and reveals how he witnessed a former civilian hairdresser “cutting the unnaturally long hair of a docile Boche, who was patiently kneeling on the ground whilst the automatic clippers crept up the back of his neck.”[ii]

    Ancestry Senior Content Manager Miriam Silverman comments: “While teachers, doctors or policemen may have had skills or leadership qualities that could have prepared them better for the front lines, what this data really tells us is that it was the ordinary men with everyday professions that made some of the most extraordinary heroes.”

    Ancestry holds over 20 million military records, including British Army WWI Medal Rolls Index Cards, 1914-1920; Citations of the Distinguished Conduct Medal, 1914-1920; and Military Campaign Medal and Award Rolls, 1793-1949.

    Great Britain’s Top 10 Bravest Pre-War Professions

    1. Teacher

    2. Window cleaner

    3. Cotton worker

    4. Fisherman

    5. Doctor

    6. Servant

    7. Barber

    8. Merchant

    9. Police

    10. Banking

     

    Find your family heroes.



    [i]
    Source: NB: Distinguished Conduct Medal, Meritorious Service Medal and Victoria and Military Cross winners either already employed in the military or previously at school were omitted from these results.

    [ii] Source: Bullets & Billets by Bruce Bairnsfather.

    The post Teachers, Window Cleaners, and Textile Workers Make the Bravest British Soldiers appeared first on Ancestry.co.uk Blog.

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    West Yorkshire house values quadruple in 100 yearshttp://blogs.ancestry.com/uk/2014/03/20/west-yorkshire-house-values-quadruple-in-100-years/ http://blogs.ancestry.com/uk/2014/03/20/west-yorkshire-house-values-quadruple-in-100-years/#comments Thu, 20 Mar 2014 18:12:58 +0000 Paul Rawlins http://blogs.ancestry.com/uk/?p=4633 Historic West Yorkshire tax records reveal spike in property values over the past century. New research has revealed that property values in West Yorkshire have almost quadrupled over the past century. The findings, from Ancestry, were uncovered within the newly digitised West Yorkshire, England, Tax Valuation, 1910 Collection. These 600,000 tax valuation records detail the… Read more

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    Historic West Yorkshire tax records reveal spike in property values over the past century.

    New research has revealed that property values in West Yorkshire have almost quadrupled over the past century.

    The findings, from Ancestry, were uncovered within the newly digitised West Yorkshire, England, Tax Valuation, 1910 Collection. These 600,000 tax valuation records detail the name of occupant, location, type of building, property value and amount of duty paid.

    In 1910, you could become a homeowner for the sum of £415, which is the equivalent of £41,396 today. Fast-forward 100 years and the average value of a house in West Yorkshire now stands at £154,256, an incredible increase of 272 per cent — even accounting for inflation.

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    These turn-of-the-century property values were recorded thanks to Chancellor Lloyd George’s 1910 Finance Act. Before this law — designed to increase government tax revenues — there was no official system in place that recorded house values in the UK.

    At that time, the Liberal government was determined to boost tax revenues to fund a programme of social reform, which included introducing national insurance, state pensions and free school meals. As such, every property was valued and the figure recorded so that when it was sold the government could take its cut, which in 1910 stood at 20 per cent of the profit.

    On top of revealing the average house value at this time, the tax valuation records detail the surprisingly low value of some of West Yorkshire’s most famous sporting landmarks. Elland Road football ground, the home of Leeds United, is listed as being worth just £6,000 (only £600,000 today).

    What about Valley Parade in Bradford? The records reveal that in 1910 the owners of Bradford City A.F.C were paying £338 per year to rent the ground (the equivalent of £33,715 today).

    Headingley Stadium, home to Yorkshire County Cricket Club, is also listed at a value of £21,628 (£2,157,393 today). This entry for this property states that the overall value includes the adjacent “bowling club, lodge, stables and land”.

    Sporting landmarks aside, the collection also details several celebrated Yorkshiremen:

    • Henry Lascelles (1882-1947) — The Earl of Harewood, Lascelles owned Harewood House near Leeds. This property is listed in the records with a value of £2,078 in 1910 (the equivalent of just £207,280 today).
    • John Priestley (1894-1984) — Famous novelist and author of The Good Companions, Priestley lived in a fairly modest property in Woodbank Place, Manningham. Somewhat surprisingly his property would only be worth the equivalent of £57,456 today.
    • Martin Hawke (1860-1938) — A former cricketer for Yorkshire and capped by England in five Test matches, Hawke became the 7th Baron Hawke and lived at Wighill Park in an extensive property worth the equivalent of £660,000 today.

    The launch of the collection marks a collaboration between Ancestry and the West Yorkshire Archive Service that will see millions of West Yorkshire records appear online (West Yorkshire residents can access this collection free of charge at all the offices of West Yorkshire Archive Service).

    The post West Yorkshire house values quadruple in 100 years appeared first on Ancestry.co.uk Blog.

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    A Victorian Shopping List: Moustache Grease, a Brace of Pistols, and a Pint of Bloodhttp://blogs.ancestry.com/uk/2014/03/20/a-victorian-shopping-list-moustache-grease-a-brace-of-pistols-and-a-pint-of-blood/ http://blogs.ancestry.com/uk/2014/03/20/a-victorian-shopping-list-moustache-grease-a-brace-of-pistols-and-a-pint-of-blood/#comments Thu, 20 Mar 2014 18:12:09 +0000 Paul Rawlins http://blogs.ancestry.com/uk/?p=4624 Never mind eggs, milk and bread. The typical Victorian shopping basket might contain leeches, moustache grease, and a pint of blood. These findings from Ancestry were assembled from hundreds of retail trade directories from the Victorian era. Researchers identified the most common retailers and reconstructed our ancestors’ shopping habits—with some surprising findings. The audit of… Read more

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    high street southhamptonNever mind eggs, milk and bread. The typical Victorian shopping basket might contain leeches, moustache grease, and a pint of blood.

    These findings from Ancestry were assembled from hundreds of retail trade directories from the Victorian era. Researchers identified the most common retailers and reconstructed our ancestors’ shopping habits—with some surprising findings.

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    The audit of records covers a period (1820-1893) when the ‘high street’ was in its infancy and shops were extremely specialised.

    Specialist shops and the items they sold ranged from feather merchants and corn chandlers to drysalters and bone traders. Some of the more unusual and now long-gone merchants include Japanners (selling lacquer for furniture), animal hide traders, and snuffers, who dealt exclusively in the conical metal cups used to snuff out candles.

    Other ‘extinct’ stores include:

    • Gun merchants — These shops were found on many a Victorian high street, as pistols could be carried in public without a licence until 1870. The sale of firearms wasn’t regulated until 1903, with the introduction of the Pistols Act.
    • Tripe dressers — The stomach of animals, known as tripe, was a delicacy in the Victorian era, with its popularity spurring some butchers to deal exclusively in the tasty offal.
    • Leech merchants — Sellers of these blood-sucking worms could be found in many a city when doctors recommended them to filter and remove ‘bad blood’ and with it disease.

    Such specialism contrasts starkly with today, where supermarkets and shopping centres lead the way. Yet these supermarkets actually began their lives in the Victorian period and can be found in city directories. Marks & Spencer began its life as a market stall in Leeds in 1884, and the first Sainsbury’s opened in London in 1869 selling fresh foods.

    The directories include other independent retailers that you would find in today’s typical town centre: green grocers, bakers, butchers. Some of the items they sold, however, you’d be hard pressed to find on modern premises. For example:

    • Butchers would often sell pints of animal blood, as it was thought to help combat tuberculosis if drunk once a week.
    • Arsenic could be purchased from chemists (to kill off rats and mice of course), along with moustache grease to keep facial hair looking fine.
    • Your optician wouldn’t be as likely to offer the same array of monocles, barometers, or opera glasses they did in the 19th century.

    Other things haven’ changed much. Alcohol was a common item on the Victorian shopping list. While ales, porters, and beers were more likely to be purchased and consumed in public houses, spirit merchants were commonplace, their best selling product being gin, which was synonymous with Victorian drinking culture.

    The Victorians were also just as obsessed with fashion as we are today—the most common stores on the Victorian high street dealt in clothing.

    Milliners (hat designers) were among the most prevalent stores. No gentleman would be without his top hat, which led to ancillary stores that sold chemicals, dyes, and ribbons to decorate and maintain them. Wire cravat stiffeners were another popular purchase for Victorian men, whilst woman invested in plumes from exotic birds to liven up their headwear.

    Other common retailers identified in the research include:

    • Wax merchants — With light bulbs not commonplace until the early 20th century, wax candles were the item of choice for lighting a home. Wax merchants could be found on most Victorian high streets, but wax products were also sold in grocers.
    • Corn chandlers — Pets were hugely popular in Victorian times, and these stores sold a huge selection of animal grains and feed.
    • Confectioners — The traditional sweet shop became a regular sight during the Victorian period, offering classics such as pear drops, liquorice, and pralines.

    Miriam Silverman, UK Content Manager, from Ancestry comments: “Our ancestors will certainly have headed to the high street to pick up their shopping essentials.

    “Simply cross-reference the address of your ancestors in one of the many Victorian trade directories and you can find out some of the unusual shops they may have frequented or even worked at.”

    The most popular stores of the Victorian high street

    1. milliners & dressmakers

    2. boot & shoe shops

    3. book sellers

    4. butchers

    5. wine & spirit merchants

    6. fruiterers & greengrocers

    7. corn chandlers (corn, wheat, flour)

    8. watch & clock makers

    9. confectioners

    10. opticians

    And some more unusual retailers…

    coal & coke merchants

    gun stores

    Japanners (selling popular dark lacquer for furniture)

    feather merchants

    curiosity dealers (‘fancy’ goods such as gloves, ornaments & inkstands)

    galloon salesmen (decorative woven trims)

    die sinkers (medals & coins)

    herring merchants

    tripe dressers (animal intestines)

    leech importers

     

    Find out how your ancestors made their living—or spent it.

    The post A Victorian Shopping List: Moustache Grease, a Brace of Pistols, and a Pint of Blood appeared first on Ancestry.co.uk Blog.

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