Wednesday, 31 July 2013

WDYTYA? Review - Series 10 - Nigel Havers

What another great episode of "Who Do You Think You Are?".

Lovely to hear his father's family's claim to fame through the Hackney carriage business and his fall into bankruptcy. A great story of normal every day life of a Victorian businessman with it's highs and lows. How wise was Henry to pay into the Asylum Society to care for him should times of trouble ever ensue the family.

It is amazing how much information one can gleam through the newspapers about one's ancestors if they were well known in their communities.

His mother's family was also interesting, if the mill had passed down his family line, perhaps he would have been brought up in the humble village in Cornwall and a very different life story. Again though a beautiful depiction of every day life with its dramas and normalities.

I cannot wait until next weeks episode now...

Saturday, 27 July 2013

An advanced search on The National Archives Discovery Catalogue

This follows on from last weeks blog post about searching The National Archives Discovery Catalogue online. We're now going to look at performing an advanced search.

Advanced search

On the homepage (first image) under the green search button you can see "Advanced search" in blue below it...

The National Archives - Discovery Catalogue - HOMEPAGE

...if you click this link it takes you to the Advanced search page.

The National Archives - Discovery Catalogue - Advanced Search

On this page you can search:
  • a specific phrase, omit or include other words, or all or any of these words
  • a specific date range
  • all or online collections
  • within a specific government department or a reference number
  • using a tick box for subject
  • catalogue levels
  • opening date
  • closure status
  • and former reference

These extra search options can help you find more specifically the document you might be looking for.

For example, I want to find my ancestor John Davidson who was in the Royal Marines but definitely not in the navy in the early 1800s. The document will most probably be found in the War Office (WO) department.

The National Archives - Discovery Catalogue - Advanced Search

The above search actually produces no search results as being too specific is not always helpful.

Once you have your list of search results you can look at the details of the documents in exactly the same way as when doing a basic search and order copies as well.

Please feel free to add more tips for other users or questions, which I may have overlooked then feel free to leave a comment and I will aim to respond as soon as I can.

Next week we will look at another way of using the Discovery Catalogue.

Copyright © 2013 Ruth Hogan

Thursday, 25 July 2013

WDYTYA? Review - Series 10 - Una Stubbs

A great start to a new series of "Who Do You Think You Are?" with Una Stubbs. I have just watched the first episode this evening on BBC iPlayer.

It was a great mix of basic family history research finding out a wealth of knowledge about her family's background which she never knew. An amazing story of how her mother's and father's families both came to be in Welwyn Garden City. Inspirational to show that whatever your background (poor or rich!) at birth is, you can achieve great things in life if you have the will power to do so. A beautiful story, but so sad she did not meet her father's family due to social prejudices.

Fantastically put together TV show, best one I've seen for a few series'. Let's hope this series carries on this way!

Saturday, 20 July 2013

A basic search on The National Archives Discovery Catalogue

This is the first in a series about how best to use The National Archives Discovery Catalogue for researching your family history.

A quick guide to using The National Archives Discovery Catalogue for a basic name search...

The National Archives - Discovery Catalogue - HOMEPAGE

Searching with a name or subject or date

Type the name or subject into the search box...and you can choose to search "All collections" or "Online Collections" using the tabs above the search box.

The National Archives - Discovery Catalogue - Search

TIPS: Using exclamation marks ("xxx") means that it will search for the WHOLE phrase or name together, for example, "John Davidson" as a complete phrase. 
Use BOOLEAN operators (see BBC website for a short explanation or CSA for some further ideas), for example, AND means it will only search for entries which include the phrase "John Davidson" AND name Charlotte in them rather than all documents with "John Davidson" and Charlotte in them separately.

CLICK ENTER once you have typed in your search and your results will appear...

The National Archives - Discovery Catalogue - Search Results

You can now REFINE your results using the tick boxes on the left of the window by SUBJECT, DATE or GOVERNMENT DEPARTMENT until you find the possible documents you are looking for.

To view details about the documents listed in the search results, click on the blue title and it will open another page with details about the document and where it can be viewed.

The National Archives - Discovery Catalogue - Details of a document

On this page for this particular document it tells me the records can be found at if you have a subscription or that they can be viewed free of charge at The National Archives in London.

The National Archives - Discovery Catalogue - Details of a document

On another document it has a link to how I can order a copy of the document in question. If you click this link it takes you to another page where it asks if you would like the whole document or just a few pages copying by adding details of what you would like copying. You would need to either log in or register if you're a new user and they will send you a quote via email for the cost of copying the document. For some documents they can copy them digitally and send you the PDF file whereas for others they will send you a hard copy through the post.

You can use the exactly the same process as above for searching a particular subject such as the "Battle of Waterloo" or a name or subject and a date, for example, Ypres AND 1914.

The National Archives - Discovery Catalogue - Search results using a date and subject

All documents can be tagged with a word or phrase to make them easier to find later, for example, Ypres or even World War 1 (see document below) or to help your own research with the name of the relative who you might be searching for. You must be registered and logged in to tag a document. You will find the green box to tag the documents at the bottom of the page with the details of the document on it.

The National Archives - Discovery Catalogue - Tagging a document

Happy searching...!!! Hope that you manage to find something really useful.

If you have any questions, or would like to add any comments about anything I have missed please feel free and I will try and respond as quickly as possible.

Copyright © 2013 Ruth Hogan

Saturday, 13 July 2013

My ancestor worked with ... WOOD

Carpentry Hand Tools
(Image link:,
Author: Dolev, 19 Jan 2010, accessed 8 Feb 2014
Many "carpenters" or people who worked with wood would have served an apprentice from about the age of 14 years of age. An apprenticeship generally lasted for about 7 years until they were 21 years old. At the end of the apprenticeship they would become a Journeyman Carpenter and then after working as a journeyman for a number of years they became a Master Carpenter.

There are many occupational names for people who work with WOOD, joiners, carpenters or coopers, but what is the differences between them all?

  • Carpenters is a general term used for someone who works with wood but more specifically they used screws and nails to join the pieces of wood, from large constructions such as buildings down to desk drawers. St Joseph is the patron saint of carpenters, due to Jesus's father, Joseph being a carpenter. It is an age old occupation.
  • Joiners carved the wood to join wooden items together using wooden joints rather than screws or nails. Often made doors, windows, stairs, tables...and coffins, hence why joiners are sometimes also undertakers.
  • Cartwrights or Wainwrights made wooden farm and commercial wagons.
  • Arkwrights were skilled cabinet makers and also produced wooden chests.
  • Carvers or finishing joiners were responsible for adding the final decorative touches.
  • Trim carpenters added the final trims or fitments.
  • Coopers made barrels.
  • Turners used rotary lathes to make items such as chair legs.
  • Scenic carpenters built stages and sets for theatres.
  • Wheelwrights built coach wheels.
  • Coachbuilders built coaches and carriages.
  • Framers built heavy frames for buildings.
  • Forman carpenter made school desks.
  • Formwork carpenters made small flat objects such as shutters.
  • Green carpenters dealt with newly sawn green timber.
  • Shipwrights designed and built wooden boats.
  • Joisters fitted joists and beams to support the floors of a building.

Copyright © 2013 Ruth Hogan

Saturday, 6 July 2013

Traditional English naming pattern

Given names or the first name of a baby born today is often thought deeply about by the parents-to-be for the whole nine months before the birth. We name our children after friends, family, famous people, choose name we like, which sound good with our surnames, try to pick something unique, etc. But about 200 years ago things were very different, there was a "traditional" naming pattern which many families (but not all!) followed. The traditional naming pattern used in England in the 1700s and early 1800s was:

1st son named after father's father (paternal grandfather)
2nd son named after the mother's father (maternal grandfather)
3rd son after the father
4th son after the father's eldest brother (eldest paternal uncle)
5th son after the mother's eldest brother (eldest maternal uncle)

1st daughter named after mother's mother (maternal grandmother)
2nd daughter named after father's mother (paternal grandmother)
3rd daughter after mother
4th daughter after mother's eldest sister (eldest maternal aunt)
5th daughter after father's eldest sister (eldest paternal aunt)

Common exceptions are found:
  • Occasionally the father or grandfather's name may be gender changed for the daughters - eg Roberta for Robert, Edwina for Edwin etc.
  • The naming pattern may have not been used if the family had a significant friend or relative whom they wished name their child after, eg a good friend or an aunt who played a significant role in the life of the mother or father.
  • The opposite of the latter may have been a "strained" family relationships between a family members in which they chose not to name a child after, so they skipped a family members name.
  • Locational variations can be found.
  • Sometimes families had their own naming pattern.
  • Occasionally there was an unusual name in the family which was carried through the generations, such as Hephzibah or Mordecai.

I cannot say that I have noticed this naming pattern followed in my family's but perhaps I have not gone back quite far enough with my research to notice the patterns.

In the Seddon family which is part of my Davidson ancestry I notice that the first born children to John and Elizabeth Seddon, were named after the parents, John and Elizabeth, the grandfather's name, Mordecai, was used for the 3rd and 5th born son. Presumably the first son named Mordecai passed away, but it is interesting as the given name "Mordecai" in this family pops up in nearly every generation for 3 or 4 generations. (To find out more about the Seddon family see my Davidson page - Chapter 11).

Also in my Davidson family, in 4 generations the first born son was given the first name "John", so whether they were following a different naming pattern or just wanted to name the first born of each generation after the father, or that it had become a family tradition, it would be interesting to know. (More can be read about my Davidson family on the Davidson Page of this blog).

Does anyone have any interesting naming patterns in their families which they can follow down the generations? If you do I would be really interested to hear from you.

Some of this information came from the website: DiggingForAncestors

Copyright © 2013 Ruth Hogan