Blog The official blog Wed, 16 Apr 2014 22:25:15 +0000 en-US hourly 1 King George’s Answer to the White Feather: World War I’s Silver War Badge Wed, 16 Apr 2014 22:24:39 +0000 Paul Rawlins Read more]]> 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

  • 14-Day Free Trial

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.


]]> 0
Cecil, Bertha and Gertrude — Britain’s ‘Endangered’ Names Revealed Thu, 10 Apr 2014 19:01:36 +0000 Paul Rawlins Read more]]> The Children's Corner, Bournemouth (image from Historical Postcards Collection)

The Children’s Corner, Bournemouth (image from 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, which reveals forenames that have virtually disappeared over the last 100 years and many more that have become ‘endangered’.

  • 14-Day Free Trial

Three categories of names are detailed in the study, which was compiled by comparing the popularity of forenames from 1905 to now through’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 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

]]> 0
Titanic Mystery Solved with DNA Testing Thu, 20 Mar 2014 18:24:07 +0000 wexon Read more]]> 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.

    ]]> 0
    Teachers, Window Cleaners, and Textile Workers Make the Bravest British Soldiers Thu, 20 Mar 2014 18:13:12 +0000 Paul Rawlins Read more]]> 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.

    • 14-Day Free Trial

    These findings, from, 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] 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.” 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.

    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.

    ]]> 1
    West Yorkshire house values quadruple in 100 years Thu, 20 Mar 2014 18:12:58 +0000 Paul Rawlins Read more]]> 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, 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.

    • 14-Day Free Trial

    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 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).


    ]]> 0
    A Victorian Shopping List: Moustache Grease, a Brace of Pistols, and a Pint of Blood Thu, 20 Mar 2014 18:12:09 +0000 Paul Rawlins Read more]]> 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 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.

    • 14-Day Free Trial

    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 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.

    ]]> 0
    Win tickets to WDYTYA?Live 2014 Mon, 03 Feb 2014 10:23:39 +0000 Emma Read more]]> WDYTYA_

    For your chance to win tickets for WDYTYA?Live 2014 keep an eye on our Twitter page @AncestryUK

    Terms and conditions of the WDYTYA Live 2014 Twitter prize draw (the “Promotion”)
    1. By entering the Promotion, you accept these terms and conditions, therefore, please read them carefully.
    2. The Promoter of the Promotion is Europe S.à.r.l., 31, rue Philippe II, L-2340 Luxembourg, Grand-Duchy of Luxembourg.
    3. The Promotion is open to UK residents aged 18 or over, except employees of the Promoter or its group companies, their immediate families and their agents.
    4. No purchase is necessary.
    5. will tweet promotional messages that will include the tag #WDYTYALIVE2014 and will invite entrants to retweet the message for the chance to win a prize. To enter, entrants should retweet the promotional tweet. Entries submitted in any other manner will not be accepted. No responsibility can be accepted for entries incomplete, delayed or not received.
    6. The Promotion will run from the time a promotional message is tweeted until midnight on that day. Entries submitted outside this period will not be accepted. One entry per person per day of the Promotion.
    7. 1 winner will be chosen at random from all the people who retweet the promotional message on that day of the Promotion. There will be 5 prizes awarded in total. The prize for each winner is a pair of tickets to of the WDYTYA Live show at Olympia to be used on one date between 20th February and 22 February 2014. Any additional expenses incurred by the winners in connection with the prize including but not limited to travel, accommodation or refreshments are not included. The winners must comply with any additional conditions applicable to attendance at/participation in the event/venue.
    8. The winners will be notified via Twitter within 7 days of the end of each day of the Promotion. If a winner cannot be contacted within 7 days of being notified, the winner forfeits the prize and no alternative winner will be selected.
    9. The Promoter’s decision is final and binding. The Promoter reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to disqualify or exclude any individual for inappropriate behaviour including but not limited to:
    • tampering with the entry process, (including exceeding any limitation on the numbers of entries), or any other process, which, in the opinion of the Promoter in any way affects the fairness of the promotion;
    • tampering with the operation of the Promotion or the website of the Promoter;
    • acting in violation of the terms of the Promotion;
    • violating the terms of service, conditions of use and/or general rules or guidelines on Twitter;
    • acting in an unsportsmanlike or disruptive manner, or with intent to annoy, abuse, threaten or harass any other person;
    • submitting entries on behalf of another individual; or
    • any conduct which would put other entrants at an unfair disadvantage.
    10. There are no cash alternatives to the prizes and the prizes are not transferable.
    11. The Promoter reserves the right to modify, cancel or withdraw the Promotion without notice.
    12. For details of the winners, write to Europe S.à.r.l., at the above address.
    13. Any personal information received by the Promoter in connection with this Promotion will be used solely in accordance with the Promoter’s Privacy Statement and you also consent to the Promoter using your name and country of residence for administrative and promotional purposes relating to the Promotion.
    14. The Promoter shall not be responsible for any circumstances beyond its control which prevent it from fulfilling its Promotion obligations.
    15. The Promoter accepts no responsibility for any damage, loss, liabilities or disappointment incurred or suffered by you as a result of entering the Promotion or accepting the prizes. The Promoter further disclaims liability for any damage to your or any other person’s computer relating to or resulting from participation in or downloading any materials in connection with the Promotion.
    16. The Promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Twitter.

    ]]> 0
    Pet Census – Britain’s historic love affair with animals revealed Thu, 30 Jan 2014 11:29:52 +0000 Emma Read more]]> NICammendedpet blog

    Our research has revealed the true extent of the British love affair with our animals – with 90 per cent of pet-owners admitting that they think of their pet as part of the family.  We also found how a third claim to prefer their animals to real life members of their family.

    • 14-Day Free Trial

    1 in 6 consider their pet more important than their cousin and 6 per cent of owners even like their pet more than their own partner.

    Dog owners are the most keen to make their pet a bona fide family member, with 16 per cent choosing to include their 4 legged friend in the 2011 Census. A number of these even listed their dog as their ‘son’ on the official form.

    Yet this animal infatuation is by no means a 21st century phenomenon with pets also listed in the 1911 Census. Arthur and Elizabeth Delve from Smethwick recorded the existence of their ‘faithful Irish terrier Biddy’. Biddy, was a ‘magnificent watch and a demon on cats and vermin.’

    Another canine in the 1911 Census is ‘Roger the Watchdog’ in Dulwich. Here, his journalist owner James Little listed his age at 5 and a rather fitting profession of & ‘looking after the house’.

    Paintings of pets were particularly popular in Victorian Britain when wealthy women sat for pictures with perfectly groomed lap dogs. Interestingly, this trend still persists today with one in 20 of owners confessing they have commissioned a professional portrait of their animal.

    As the desire for pets grew, so did the trend for pampering our pooches, which continues today. Historic pet related professions that appeared throughout the 19th and 20th centuries include:

    • Animal trainers– Men like George Armstrong from Devon and Charles Kyte from Bridgewater could be employed to ensure that your puppy was perfectly behaved. Both are listed as dog trainers in the 1911 Census
    • Dog biscuit maker– Alongside wife Lucy, John Atton from Burton on Trent made sure that no hounds went hungry. He lists his profession as dog biscuit maker in the 1911 Census
    • Animal artists – A picture of you and your beloved pet was considered a staple of any Victorian drawing room. Many specialised artists are listed in the census records including artist animal painter John Calow from Glasgow in 1851
      • 14-Day Free Trial

    ]]> 0
    Top 20 Search Tips Tue, 10 Dec 2013 09:35:44 +0000 Emma Read more]]> Use our suggestions to track down missing ancestors and get more from your searches.

    1. Focused searching

    Searching all our records at once is extremely powerful, but it can give you too many search results. Consider searching categories, such as census or military records. Or if you know where and when you’re looking for your ancestors, you can often search within particular record collections.


    2. Recent collections

    On our main search page, look for ‘Recently viewed collections’ in the top-right corner. These links will take you straight back to the record collections you last looked at.

    • 14-Day Free Trial


    3. Recent searches

    Slightly further down the page, on the left, you’ll find ‘Recent Searches’. This provides a list of the ancestors you last searched for – click on them to go straight back to your search results.


    4. Local records

    At the bottom of the main search page is a map of the UK. Click within the map to see lists of record collections for any country. You can then use the options on the right to see just the collections for a particular county.


    5. Find more records
    We’ve created pages for each of our main categories to help you find more useful records. For example, includes links to all our census and electoral collections – as well as help for using those records. You’ll find a full list of these pages in the ‘What’s Happening’ section of your homepage.


    6. Card Catalogue

    For a wider view, use the Card Catalogue – you’ll find this at the bottom of the Search menu at the top of the screen. This lets you see all the record collections across our whole site, and filter them by category, location and date.


    7. New releases

    We’re constantly adding record collections, so there are always new opportunities to find your family. Stay up-to-date with our latest releases here.


    8. Exact matches

    The ‘Match all terms exactly’ option can be useful in narrowing down your results. However, be careful as this will exclude any records that don’t include all the information in your search – for example, many records don’t have a death date.


    9. Alternative names

    Names were often spelt differently in the past, so use the options under the ‘First Name’ and ‘Last Name’ boxes to include alternatives. However, also take the time to search for other possibilities yourself (for example Owen and Owens), as this can be more effective.


    10. Wildcard searches

    You can also look for different spellings using wildcard characters. Use an * if there are several letters you’re not sure of (‘Rob*son will look for Robinson and Robertson) or a ? for a single letter (Sm?th for Smith and Smyth). For more information on wildcards watch the ‘Go further with searching’ video in our Help & Advice Centre.


    11. Nearby counties

    You’ll often find that your ancestors moved across county borders. You can use the advanced options under any Location box to focus your search on the county that you entered, plus any bordering counties.


    12. Family members

    There are many James Olivers in our records, but far fewer who were married to ladies named Charlotte, and fewer still with sons named Frank. Use the ‘Family Member’ options to include other relatives in your search.


    13. Lateral thinking

    Another option is to simply search for a different person in the same household. Perhaps you can’t find James Oliver? Try searching for wife Charlotte or other family members with more unusual names, and see if you can spot James elsewhere on the record.


    14. Collection Priority

    The ‘Collection Priority’ option lets you focus on different parts of the world. Perhaps your greatuncle ran away to America? Switch the collection priority to United States to view mainly American records, and tick ‘Show only records from these collections’ if you don’t want to see anything else.


    15. Browsing records

    When you’re searching within individual record collections, you’ll often see options to ‘Browse this collection’ on the right. These let you choose a particular place and time period, and read through the records as though you were reading a book – they’re particularly useful with parish records.


    16. Result views

    There are two ways of viewing your results. – switch between them using the ‘View’ option in the top-right. ‘Sorted by relevance’ presents each individual record with the closest matches at the top; ‘Summarized by category’ groups your results together, so you can see what categories and collections they come from.


    17. Edit Search

    If you’ve made a mistake, or you want to try a slightly different search, you don’t need to go back to the search page. Just click ‘Edit Search’ in the top-left, change anything you want, and then click ‘Search’.


    18. Narrow by Category

    Perhaps you’re only interested in census records or travel records? You can easily filter your results by selecting one of the options under ‘Narrow by category’. You’ll then see more filter options, such as date ranges or sub-categories.


    19. Record preview

    If you keep clicking on all your results, it can take a long time to check which ones relate to your family. Instead, just hover over a result to see a quick preview of the most important information.


    20. Hot Keys

    You can use keyboard shortcuts to move through your results more quickly. For example, pressing ‘r’ will let you edit your search, while ‘p’ brings up a preview of the record you’ve selected. There’s a full list of your Hot Keys in the bottom-left.

    Find more top tips in our Help & Advice centre

    • 14-Day Free Trial

    ]]> 0
    Family tree of ‘Family Man’ musician revealed Tue, 03 Dec 2013 11:58:02 +0000 Emma Read more]]> We’ve been digging… Mick Fleetwood isn’t the first member of his family to achieve fortune, fame and critical acclaim. Mick is not only related to British royalty, but his 4x great grandmother was Anne Catley – one of the most sought after entertainers of 18th century London.

    • 14-Day Free Trial

    Born in Tower Hill in 1745, Catley was singing in local taverns at the age of 10. Renowned for her beautiful voice and stunning good looks, she delighted Georgian society with her talent and simultaneously scandalised it with her working class roots and ‘loose tongue’.

    And while Fleetwood Mac fans paid hundreds of pounds for tickets to watch their heroes perform in London this summer, Catley commanded a performance wage of 40 guineas per night, equivalent to £5,000 today.

    We also found, some decidedly blue blood in the drummer’s family tree. His 2x great- uncle Robert Jenner was the High Sherriff of Glamorgan in 1827 while his 6x great grandfather Edward Lascelles was also Princess Diana’s 9x great-grandfather on Edward Spencer’s side.

    ]]> 0