Saturday, 29 June 2013

My ancestor was a FRAMEWORK KNITTER...

Stocking Frame
(Image link:, Author:
John Beniston, 29 May 2005, accessed 8 Feb 2014
The occupation "Framework Knitter" is often abbreviated to "FWK" on census returns. It is an occupation very specific to the counties of Derbyshire, Leicestershire and Nottinghamshire. Wool was readily available and before the framework knitter came into being many people (men, women and children) would supplement their incomes by hand knitting socks.

In 1859, William Lee of Calverton nr Nottingham invented the Stocking Frame, a major player in the mechanisation of the textile industry, which would become the machinery used by our framework knitter ancestors.

William Lee could not get a patent for his knitting frame in the UK so with his brother took the technology to France where it was used and developed further. In the early 1600's after William Lee's death his brother returned to London where the frame began to gain popularity and in 1663 the Worshipful Company of Framework Knitters gained a Royal Charter.

During the 1600s with the unrest caused by the Civil War many people were scattered from London throughout the Midlands and due to the already established cottage industry, the stocking frame became very popular for the industry of this area of the country. During the same period the Enclosure Act meant many people were coming out of the agricultural industries and trying other occupations, especially framework knitting.

It remained an important industry in the Midlands throughout the 19th century and gradually deceased in number in the early 20th century.

I have a number of ancestors who were framework knitters who were all from the Nottingham area, they were:

  • Thomas Nichols, my great x5 grandfather, born c1800 in Nottingham
  • John Holmes, my great x3 grandfather, born c1844 in Nottingham until the family moved to Leeds in the 1880s
  • Joseph Holmes, my great x4 grandfather, born c1805 in Wittick, Leicestershire, the father of John Holmes (see above) who lived in Nottingham

For more information see the websites: Wikipedia - Stocking FrameWirksworth - FWKFWK Museum

Copyright © 2013 Ruth Hogan

Saturday, 22 June 2013

A few thoughts about Britain's social history and the Welfare State...

Well, I have doing some deep thinking, doesn't happen often so I thought I would share something of my thoughts. You may agree with them but at the same time you may not which is fine, but I would be interested to hear your thoughts...

I have been doing a short course to learn about the differences in cultures between the East and West of the world, to enable us better to befriend our neighbours from other countries to make our city a friendly place to live.

In the West our culture is focussed on:

  • individualism, 
  • often not community or family focussed, 
  • time and efficiency orientated, 
  • equality between sexes, 
  • secular and sacred divide, 
  • having companions through work or the activities we do, 
  • fragmented families, 
  • the expectation of the state to care for our elderly and infirm.

Whereas in the East the culture is:

  • much more heavily focussed around family and wider extended families, 
  • communities working and coming together to achieve something, 
  • care for one another especially within the extended family,
  • relationship and hospitality orientated,
  • religion centred, 
  • more segregated roles in society.

Having discussed these differences in cultures with some friends who're also on the course, it got me thinking about how our society works and how it has become what it is today, as only a few generations ago our society's values were probably more like the East's are today. We did not institutionalise our elderly or infirm, we cared for them within the extended family, women were expected to care for the elderly alongside the children, so how did our values change on these things?

Well, in the 1940s just after the end of World War II the Welfare System was created, it was a system set up to support those who were unable to work due to ill health, learning difficulties, disabilities etc without the fear of having to enter the dreaded "WORKHOUSE". It was especially important for the government to set up a system in which to support those who were now unable to work due to disabilities sustained through the war.  It was a revolutionary system alongside the start of the National Health Service (NHS) which went on to provide free health care to all. It offered support to those who really needed it, to reduce poverty and improve education and health in our country. Those who lived throughout the transition into a Welfare State and the NHS must have seen a truly transitional community, and even now working in the NHS I see elderly patients who are just so grateful that we have a free healthcare system in which they can be treated for they remember the fear of their parents when a family member became ill or unemployed.

Unfortunately for those of us who're younger and have always lived within the system, it is what we have always known and we expect to get as much as we can for "FREE" (after all we do pay into the system!) and this is what has changed and altered some of the values and cultures within our society.

  • We expect the best service that can be offered.
  • We expect the government to pay up when our relatives become elderly or we are unable to work for whatever reason so why should we have to help them?
  • We no longer need to save money just in case we fall ill and cannot work as we will receive a benefits such as sick pay. 
  • We no longer have to care for our elderly relatives as they can go into a nursing home which the state will pay some of the costs of.
  • We no longer have to worry about losing our jobs as there will be money we can rely on.
  • There are a few who rely on the Welfare State for their income and have become apathetic about the need to work.
  • We also know we can get a basic state pension when we reach retirement age, so we do not need to work until the day we cannot.

Do we take our Welfare System and National Health Service for granted, should we be more appreciative of what we can have for "FREE"?

We have lost many of our previous responsibilities where we had to care for elderly relatives, bring them into our homes, share our finances with them when they were in need, take more care of our finances so we had something to fall on if we fell onto hard times. Would you consider bailing your brother and his family out if he was made redundant or would you expect the state to pick up the bill? Would you have cared more for your family if the only other option was the dreaded workhouse? 

Has having a state welfare system affected our "family" lives and created generations who expect to get as much as they can by paying as little as possible and not have to take responsibility for their extended families? We have become so focussed on SELF and what "I" can achieve, not having time to offer to others because we are so time and efficiency focussed.

Don't get me wrong I love the welfare system and the National Health Service and also hate paying my taxes but really I want to get you thinking about the background behind the beginnings of the Welfare State and NHS. Why it was created, for the good of our communities but also what a shift has happened in our communities and extended families since the beginnings of the Welfare State. I realise there are also many other changes which have occurred in society which have altered the way communities work.

In my great, great grandfather's diary, it lists the accounts of the financial support he had to offer his own father in his old age up to his death. Would we expect to do this today? (The story of my great, great grandfather - Edward Davidson can be found on Ruth's Ancestors blog - The Davidson Family Chapter 8 and 13 onwards especially Fig 8.15.)

Copyright © 2013 Ruth Hogan

Saturday, 15 June 2013

Writing your family history

I have been researching my family history for about 11 years now and have accumulated lots and lots of information and documents about my ancestors. My family tree had grown to include nearly 1400 people, which makes it impossible to remember the facts about everyone. At family reunions I am often asked questions about "Great Uncle Albert Junior" but I rarely remember very much, so I decided I wanted to conglomerate my research to include the interesting and important information about my ancestors.

There are many ways in which this can be done:

  • write a book
  • write a blog
  • a website
  • pamphlet
  • detailed poster of the family tree
  • case study story on a particular family or ancestor of interest

I was overwhelmed and not really sure where to start, so I went to a seminar about Writing Your Family History at Who Do You Think You Are? Live 2012.

These are some of the tips I have learnt whilst beginning to write out my family history.

  • Who are you writing for? Family, friends, yourself, or for other family historians? What is your focus? As a starter you could write a case study about an ancestor to send to a family history magazine.
  • What is your goal?  To educate, inform or entertain. 
  • What style do you want to write in? Factual, fictional, 1st or 3rd person, past to present, present to past...etc
  • Always write from a plan. Have a beginning, middle and end.
  • What do your readers need to know and what trivial facts can be left out. Cherry pick the interesting facts or anecdotes.
  • Put the facts into context for the reader, for example Great Uncle Jim was a carpenter, but what did a carpenter do in 1890? Be careful not to patronise but focus on adding meat to the bones.
  • Add topical or locational information to put the lives of your ancestor into context. What national or local events were happening during your ancestors lifetime? What political or social changes did your ancestors live through? What was the town like where they resided especially in comparison to today?
  • Make it interesting - tell it as a story.
  • Add photos, images of documents, timelines of local events alongside family events, maps and family tree diagrams.
  • Start writing - you can keep researching forever so at some point you have to make a decision to stop researching and start putting what you have onto paper.
  • Make it clear when it is a fact or when theorising, especially if writing a fiction.
  • Include personal recollections.
  • Back up all your facts with references or if you quote from another website or book cite where the quote came from, do not plagiarise.
  • When you have your first draft, find a critic to read it and help you develop your story further.

By writing your family history it will become a valuable resource for future generations to look at.

I have written the story of my Davidson ancestors which is on this blog as "The Davidson Story". At present some of it is still being refined, but my aim is to also print it as a coffee table book for my elderly relatives who do not have access to the internet and for them to keep and pass down to their descendants.

Copyright © 2013 Ruth Hogan

Saturday, 8 June 2013

Historical Directories

A few weeks ago I discovered this website...HistoricalDirectories.

The site lists local trade directories for England and Wales from 1750 to 1919. Trade directories are the equivalent to the Yellow Pages today, all businesses or businessmen are listed in them, from the local greengrocer to mariners.

Directories were published more often than censuses and include much more information about a community, the people and the trades. The directories can vary greatly from area to area.

On the site there are a few ways to find documents:

  • Browse by Decade
  • Browse by Location
  • Search with Keywords

I am going to take you through finding David Parkinson in the directories for Hull, East Yorkshire. My ancestor Edward Davidson was apprenticed to this gentleman in 1883 (for more information see Chapter 8 of my Davidson Page). 

I used the Keywords search. Searching "GARBUTT" and restricted the results to Yorkshire.

Search by Keywords

The search came up with a list of directories in which this name appeared in: 

Search Results

As I know David Parkinson Garbutt was based in Hull in the 1880s I am going to take a look at White's Directory of Hull, 1882.

When you click the link it opens up the directory.

Front page of the directory

To find the pages in which your keyword is on you need to click the "Next hit" button, until you find the reference you require.

The entry I am looking for...
David P. Garbutt was a shipowner and his business was based on Arnold Street in Hull.

The website is very helpful to show you how to make the most of searching for information on the site. I have not found it the easiest site to use but after reading the instructions it became much clearer.

Copyright © 2013 Ruth Hogan

Saturday, 1 June 2013

My experience of contacting distant cousins through genealogy websites

In the past when I first started my research I was a member of GenesReunited (until their subscription fees hiked up in the last few years!). During this time I connected with a number of people whom I shared ancestors with in my family tree. Some of these connections were really positive and others were not, so I will share some of my experience of connecting with distant cousins.

One of the most positive and earliest connections I made was with Barbara, she was my grandmother's first cousin's daughter (my second cousin once removed). Our common ancestor was my great, great grandfather and her great grandfather, Frederick Slater Poole. Barbara's mother and my grandmother were first cousins and had distant memories of each other from their childhoods. Barbara and I were able to connect these first cousins together again after so many years and they were able to write many letters to one another.

Share Your Knowledge Logo
(Image link:, Author: M.casanova,
19 Nov 2012, accessed 8 Feb 2014
Barbara has always been happy to share her research and I mine. Barbara has done much more research  than myself but has always been very happy to share and help out with other areas of my research as well.

A few years ago Barbara organised a few lovely Poole distant cousin family get-togethers. It was amazing that one of these distant cousins had lived only a few miles from where I grew up, we could have passed each other in the street and not known, incredible!!!!

On the other side I have connected with people who have not been happy to share their research. Many older people have spent their lifetimes researching their family history. In the past it was much more difficult to do research than it is today in the internet era. It involved many long hours researching on scrolling through microfiches in libraries and record offices across the country. The cost of the research was much higher as well, so you can understand why they do not want to give all their hard work away to someone.

I have also connected with other researchers who I have been able to share research tips, photos of ancestors or personal documents with (eg birth, marriage or death certificates) and occasionally helped to point someone in the right direction.

At present I use Ancestry to share my family tree, but fewer people contact me. At present I prefer to spend my time researching further back than connecting with living relatives but both are important. When I get a little stuck researching an ancestor I will see if there any other members with that common ancestor which might help point me in the correct direction with my own research.

  • Never copy someone else's research without backing up the facts with your own research, get references to back up all the information yourself, as people can make mistakes!
  • Be sensitive when requesting information from distant cousins, they might not be as happy as you are to share.

Copyright © 2013 Ruth Hogan