Saturday, 31 August 2013

Interesting Family History Blog Discoveries...

Some interesting blog finds I have read over the past month of August:

British Newspaper Archive - What's in a name? Choosing a name for a baby

A summary of Royal chosen baby names and others...

Jeanie's Genealogy - Back to where she came from 

A lovely intriguing tale of her Irish ancestors trips from Ireland to the US. - The most unusual 1911 census return?

A census return which tells the tale of Roger the Airedale Terrier

British Newspaper Archive Blog - If Henry VIII Had Used a Gillette Razor...

A 1930's newspaper advert for the Gillette Razor

Ancestry Blog - Ten common research mistakes

A really useful blog post if you're getting a bit stuck with your research!!

British Newspaper Archive - Evacuation of Children from UK Cities - 30 August 1939

A fascinating read especially as my grandfather and great aunt were two of the 50,000 evacuated from Hull, East Yorkshire.

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

WDYTYA Review - Series 10 - Nick Hewer

Has to be said not my favourite episode, but that was probably because Ireland, politics and 17th century family history are not my interest areas.

I'm sure it would have interested those who have spent time researching some of their families from these periods and places.

Am disappointed that you focussed solely on two ancestors and did not go into the family history but created a documentary about early 20th century Irish politics and also 17th century politics, I want to see more depth about the families and how they lived and were affected by these politics and changes in society.

I want to see emotion and their fascination at what they are discovering as celebrities researching their family trees.

It was interesting to see how gentry and people were treated by the King and Parliament during the Civil War especially as I have recently been watching the BBC The White Queen drama. I would love to learn more about this era for my ancestors but I have much work to do before then!

The series started with some fab episodes, let's see some more good ones for the next few weeks...

Sunday, 25 August 2013

UK census records for FREE!

I have just noticed that are doing a BANK HOLIDAY SPECIAL...

Click the link to find out

WDYTYA Review - Series 10 - Gary Lineker

Danielle Lineker and Gary Lineker
(Image link:,
Author: Liton Ali, accessed 7/2/14
Unfortunately I did not get the opportunity to see Gary Lineker's episode of WDYTYA? live, so I have just watched it on BBC iPlayer this afternoon.

I have been very much looking forward to Gary Lineker's episode as he always comes across and genuine and humble ex-footballer and now TV presenter. I was interested to find where he had come from, was he from a rich family or just a normal working class family and the origins of his own surname.

It was still interesting to look into his grandmother's ancestry and for him to learn lots about two extremes of his ancestors, from a poacher who stole to keep and care for his own family and landed himself in prison several times to Tom Billingham, the law writer who had a lucky break to achieve great things.

It showed the depth of need during the times of great change in the early Victorian era especially in the rural communities with the failing cottage industries and the risk one would take to feed his own family.

A beautiful picture was painted of Tom Billingham's kindly benefactor who gave him a lucky break, by supporting his education and I loved seeing his apprenticeship document and right at the end a document that he had so beautifully written.

A lovely episode...

Saturday, 24 August 2013

My ancestor was . . . baker

A medieval baker with his apprentice (Image link:, Scanned from Maggie Black's 
"Den medeltida kokboken", Swedish translation of 
The Medieval Cookbook, ISBN 91-7712-380-8, 
accessed 8th Feb 2014)
A baker is one of the oldest trades in history and is mentioned in Genesis in the Bible. They were very prestigious tradesmen and have always been in high demand.

A baker is someone who makes, bakes and sells, bread, cookies, pastries, biscuits, rolls, cakes and crackers which required an oven to be cooked in.

There are different types of bakers:

  • Brown bakers who produce coarser bread from barley, rye and buckwheat
  • White bakers who produce goods with white flour.
  • Pastry chef who would make cakes and pastries.
  • Confectioner would maker products rich in sugar.

Molten-centred Chocolate Cupcakes

In the past some bakers would hire out their ovens to the general public to cook their own bread, as few houses had ovens until the late 19th century.

Work was long and exhausting for a baker. They would work long days, making the dough overnight to bake ready for their customers in the early morning. It was physically demanding with the heavy mixing and kneading.

(Image link:, Author: Klaus Hopfner,
2 April 2007, accessed 8th Feb 2014

It was reasonably common for a baker to also have a secondary business as a miller, corn & meal seller, yeast dealer, confectioner or even a publican who had a public oven as well as a public house.

A bakers life expectancy was much shorter as they spent most of their life breathing in flour dust which caused nasty lung diseases.

There were many a dishonest baker who would steal dough from people who brought in their own dough to be baked. The baker would steal the dough to make their own loaves which they would later sell. They would also be known to sell underweight loaves which is where the term "a baker's dozen" comes from. If a baker was caught selling underweight produce the punishment could be harsh so bakers began adding an extra loaf to the dozen to make sure they could not be punished.

Information from: Your Family Tree magazine Issue 126 (March 2013)
Wikipedia - Baker

Copyright © 2013 Ruth Hogan

Saturday, 17 August 2013

My ancestors were... Nonconformists

Low Mill Wesleyan Chapel, Knott Lane, Rawdon
My grandmother was born here, as her father was the caretaker

A nonconformist was a person or group of people who did "not conform to" the state religion which was the Anglican church (otherwise known as the Church of England) or Roman Catholicism.

My family history is full of nonconformist ancestors, mostly Methodists or Baptists, but I also have a few Salvationists (Salvation Army followers) as well.

There are many nonconformist groups or denominations, some of the common ones in the UK are:

  • Baptists - believe in the "believer's baptism"(baptism after professing one's faith) rather than infant baptism. It is commonly performed with full immersion. The denomination was started in the early 1600s by John Smyth. (Wikipedia - Baptists)
  • Methodists - came out of the Church of England in the mid 18th century, from a small group who methodically studied the Bible. The Wesley brothers, John and Charles were a part of this small group which travelled the country preaching the Gospel. (Wikipedia - Methodism)
  • Congregationalists - believe in each congregation independently running their own affairs. The whole congregation would be involved in teaching, they believe there is no need for a priest to intercede between them and God. They believe to be the most like the early church and the movement began in the late 1500s. (Wikipedia - Congregational Church)
  • Presbyterians - the roots lie in the European Reformation of the 16th century influenced by the theologian John Calvin. They were against the hierarchy system of the state church and are governed by individual courts of church elders. (Wikipedia - Presbyterianism)
  • Quakers - separated from the Church of England in the mid-17th century and they believe that "Christ has come to teach his people himself". They are well known for silent worship, teetotalism, conscientious objectors and plain dress. (Wikipedia - Quaker)
  • Unitarians - encourage their followers to find their own Spiritual path rather than follow a religion. They believe in one God and that Jesus was a prophet rather than God itself. (Wikipedia - Unitarianism)
  • Salvation Army - sought to bring salvation to the poor, destitute & hungry. Founded by Catherine & William Booth (a Methodist minister) in 1865. (Wikipedia - Salvationist)

My great, great Uncle Ted in the Salvation Army Band c1901

How does knowing whether our ancestors were nonconformists help in the research we do?

Our nonconformist ancestors may not have been baptised, married or buried at their local parish church, but instead at their own place of worship. It is more common for parish records to be kept in full and still be available for us to view today. Nonconformist denominations often kept records also but perhaps not as fully as the Parish Church and if a church has shut down the records in the past may have become lost of even destroyed.


The different denominations have different views about baptism, which can mean that your ancestor was not baptised always as an infant. Some believed in the "believer's baptism" which meant that your ancestor would not be baptised until they felt ready to profess their faith, often in their adult lives.


Marriages before 1754 could take place in any place of worship but there were many "clandestine" (secret and illegal) marriages taking place.

In 1754, Lord Hardwick's Marriage Act was introduced to do away with "clandestine" marriages. For nearly 100 years all marriages had to take place in the Parish church by an Anglican vicar with the exception of Jews and Quakers.

In 1837 with the introduction of Civil Registration, it all changed again and Nonconformist places of worship could apply to become registered as a marriage venue, but the local Superintendent Registrar would have to be present to authorise the marriages until 1898. After this the church would have had an Appointed Person who would be responsible for maintaining an official marriage register.

Hedon Road Cemetery, Hull
If your nonconformist ancestor attended a non-registered place of worship they would have to have the legal marriage at a Registry Office followed by a religious ceremony at their place of worship.


Some nonconformist churches have their own burial grounds, but not all. By the Victorian era there were often local council cemeteries so some nonconformists may have been buried in them or even in the local Parish church burial grounds if there were no other options available.

Some useful websites to take a look at for nonconformists records are:

Other places to look for records:

  • Ask minister in charge of church if church still open
  • Local record offices
  • The National Archives
  • Some churches have their own record depositories

Some information for this blog post came from:
YOUR FAMILY TREE magazine 127
Wikipedia - Nonconformist Register
Wikipedia - Nonconformism

Copyright © 2013 Ruth Hogan

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

WDYTYA? Review - Series 10 - Lesley Sharp

Barnado's Badge
(Image link:, accessed 8th Feb 2014)
Wow, a very different episode of Who Do You Think You Are? but so inspiring to hear the tales of her own adoption and real family as well. Her real father was obviously a lovely chap who wanted to do the best he could for his own family, but sadly it meant Lesley could not know him and that she had to be given up by her mother for adoption. Her poor mother had to live with the guilt of hiding her pregnancy, birth of her baby and giving her up for adoption. A big secret that the family never knew until recently!

A beautiful episode, showing the great works of Barnardo's in the past and the huge value to children who are given up being adopted into a stable loving families, who value children.

Wonderful to also see that adoption was found in her father's family in the past and that she could meet her great grandfather's foster child's grandson and see those 100 year old spectacles that were first bought for George by Lesley great, grandfather!!

Another impressive, well written and put together episode, WELL DONE WDYTYA?

Saturday, 10 August 2013

Common nicknames or Abbreviations

I was inspired by my grandmother to start researching my family history as she would talk about Cousin May, Aunty Polly married so and so....etc. As I started to research for Aunty Polly, I became rather confused, there were no Polly's in that family! When I looked further I started to realise there were a number of relatives all called Mary (which was also my grandmother's name too), one was known as May, another Polly, another Aunty Mary and Cousin Mary to distinguish who she was talking about. My grandmother only had one sister and she was often just referred to as "Aunty" without the need for using her given name, but everyone knew who they were talking about.

Another example was my grandad's brother was married to Aunty Lena, everyone knew her as Aunty Lena but yet it was not until her funeral where the extended family discovered she was actually Selina.

Listed below are some common nicknames and name abbreviations to help you with your research but as you talk with elderly relatives and you think they're using a nickname ask them "what was their Sunday name?" as it may help you unlock some doors later on.


Aaron = Ron, Ronnie
Albert = Bert, Bertie
Alexander = Alex, Sandy, Alec
Alfred = Fred, Freddie, Alf
Andrew = Andy, Drew
Anthony = Tony
Benjamin = Ben, Bennie, Benji, Benjy
Charles = Charlie, Chas
Christopher = Chris, Kit, Kester, Kristof, Xr, Xtopher,
Daniel = Danny, Dan
David = Dave, Davy
Edward = Ed, Teddy, Eddy or Eddie, Ted, Ned
Edwin = Ed, Eddie, Ned
Francis = Frank, Frankie, Fran
Frederick = Fred, Freddie, Rick, Ricky
George = Georgie
Gregory = Gregg
Harold = Harry
Henry = Harry
Herbert = Bert, Bertie
James = Jim, Jimmy, Jamie, Jas
John = Jack, Jacky, Jonny
Jonathan = Jno (as John)
Joseph = Joe, Joey, Jody, Jos
Joshua = Josh
Matthew = Matty, Matt
Michael = Mike, Mikey
Nicholas = Nick, Nicky
Peter = Pete
Philip = Phil, Pip
Richard = Rick, Ricky, Dick, Rich, Richie
Robert = Rob, Robbie, Bob, Bobbie, Robin, Bert
Ronald = Ron, Ronnie
Samuel = Sam, Sammy
Steven or Stephen = Steve
Terence = Terry
Timothy = Tim, Timmy
Thomas = Tom, Tommy, Thos
Tobias = Toby
William = Bill, Will, Willy, Billy


Agnes = Aggie, Ness, Nessie
Aileen = Lena, Allie
Alexandra = Alex, Alexa, Sandra, Sandy
Alison = Ali, Ally, Allie
Amanda = Mandy
Amelia = Amy, Millie
Ann/e or Anna = Nancy, Annie, Nance
Beatrice or Beatrix = Bea, Trixie, Beattie, Trissy
Caroline or Carolyn or Carolina = Carrie, Carol, Carly, Lynne, Lyn
Cassandra = Cassie, Sandy, Sandra
Catherine = Cathy, Cath, Cate, Cat, Kit, Cassie
Charlotte = Charlie, Lotty, Chattie, Lota, Lola
Christine or Christiana or Christina = Chris, Chrissie, Tina, Christy, Chrissa
Deborah = Debra, Debbie
Dorothy or Dorothea = Thea, Dot, Dottie, Doll, Dolly, Dora, Dee
Edith = Edie, Dee
Eileen = Lena
Eleanor = Ellie, Nellie, Nell, Nora
Elizabeth = Beth, Betty, Liz, Lizzie, Eliza, Bet, Betsy, Bess, Bessie, Ellie, Lisa, Elisa, Libby, Elsa
Emily = Millie, Emmie, Em
Emma = Em, Emmie
Esther = Hetty, Essie, Ettie
Florence = Flo, Florrie, Flossie, Flora
Francis = Fan, Fanny, Fran, Franny, Francy, France, Franky, Fran
Georgina = Nina, Georgie, Gina
Hannah = Ann, Anna, Annie, Nana, Nanny
Helen or Ellen or Helena = Nell, Ellie, El, Nellie, Lena, Lallie
Henrietta = Ettie, Etta, Hetty, Netty
Janet or Jane = Jenny, Nettie, Netta
Katherine, Kathleen, Kathlyn = Kate, Katy, Katie, Kathy, Kat, Kay, Kit, Kath
Margaret or Marguerite  = Daisy, Maggie, Marge, Margery, Margie, Madge, Margot, Margo, Magsie, Maisie, May, Meg, Megan, Peggy, Greta, Rita
Martha = Matty, Marty, Pat, Patty
Mary = Molly, Mol, May, Mae, Polly, Minnie
Patricia = Pat, Patty, Tricia, Trisha, Trish, Trissie, Patsy
Roberta = Robbie, Bobbie, Bob, Berta, Bertie, Robyn
Rosemary = Rosie, Rose
Sarah = Sally Sal, Sadie
Selina = Lena
Virginia = Ginny, Ginger, Jenny, 

For some other nicknames see: Women's namesMen's names & Traditional Nicknames

Copyright © 2013 Ruth Hogan

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

WDYTYA? Review - Series 10 - Minnie Driver

Another fab episode on the latest series of Who Do You Think You Are?

I was amazed how little she knew about her father and his family, but then when I think there is little I know about my grandparents and their roles in the World Wars. Minnie has a lovely story to tell her son and future grandchildren about the brave role her father played in the war whilst serving in the RAF. Imagine having to deal with being a hero and seeing your best friend as a corpse all at the youthful age of 18 years old, it is understandable that he required psychiatric treatment, but yet he seems to have come through to live a happy life.

It was beautiful how she was able to meet and talk to some of her cousins on her dad's side and that they could fill in some gaps which she had in her memories and knowledge about her father's family. The episode showed how it is possible to trace down your living distant cousins using Electoral Rolls and Birth, Marriage & Death certificates.

Until next Wednesday!

Saturday, 3 August 2013

Browsing The National Archives Discovery Catalogue

The National Archives Discovery Catalogue can also be browsed to find what you might be looking for.

The National Archives - Discovery Catalogue - HOMEPAGE

The browse catalogue is organised by Government Department Reference, so for example, WO stands for records created or inherited by the War Office, Armed Forces, Judge Advocate General and related bodies; ADM stands for records from the Admirality, Naval Forces, Royal Marines, Coastguard and related bodies...etc

So, in this example we're going to look for a document in the War Office department, so I will click the W from the homepage...

The National Archives - Discovery Catalogue - Browsing the catalogue by Government Department then lists all the W government departments starting with W, you can scroll down the centre of the page to see more, or use the previous 30, next 30 buttons at the top of the page.

You also have the choice with the tabs at the top to browse by hierarchy or reference or click the details tab to see a more detailed description about what records are included in each collection.

I click on the WO collection tab and it opens up more information about the collection...

The National Archives - Discovery Catalogue - Browsing the War Office department

...and it lists all the documents which the War Office collection comprises of on the right, where as on the left of the screen it shows all the divisions of documents within this collection.

If you click the Browse by reference tab at the top of the page, you can browse instead by the reference numbers given to each section of records within this department.

The National Archives - Discovery Catalogue - Browsing by Reference

I would like to find out more about the Records of the Royal Chelsea Hospital, so as there are 2 references for the Royal Chelsea Hospital I am going to go back to browsing by hierarchy and click on Division 10.

The National Archives - Discovery Catalogue - Division 10 of the War Office 

This opens up and tells me more details about this Division of the War Office collection and all the references to the Royal Chelsea Hospitals on the left and where you might exactly find pensions records or admission or soldier's service documents, etc.

If at this stage you click the details tab it brings up a very detailed explanation of this Division of the collection.

The National Archives - Discovery Catalogue - Details of Division 10 of the War Office department records

From either of the last 2 pages above you need to choose which WO xx reference you require and it brings you to a page very similar to the search results page, with a list of records included in that collection. For the purpose of this I have clicked WO 245...

The National Archives - Discovery Catalogue - Browsing Division 10 records you can use this page as you might when you were searching for a document, by refining by date and subject to eventually find something you're looking for.

Click on the record and you see more details about the document listed along with how to order the document, as explained on the previous blog posts.

The National Archives - Discovery Catalogue - A document

To tag any documents so as to make them easier to find later for your benefit or someone else's.

Copyright © 2013 Ruth Hogan