Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Dear Santa

On the offchance you've won the lottery since Christmas Day and are trying to find that perfect extra gift for me, might I suggest this?

Ascott Cup 1887

Thursday, December 16, 2010


A few days ago FamilySearch switched over their beta site to their main site - if you haven't been over that way in a while, go and scare yourself. A perusal of the Adjustment Guide confirms the following things:

The International Genealogical Index is dead - or, at least, no longer part of the main site, so as good as. The Guide admits that those patron-submitted records with no sources were of "limited value" (yes, those are the precise words we all used too, aren't they?) and deserved to be jettisoned - we're right there with you. RIP IGI, I suspect we will remember you more fondly than your flaws deserve.

The free Personal Ancestral File (PAF) software is also banished from the main site. PAF's retirement has been coming for a long time - farewell, our elderly friend!

RIP batch numbers - gone too are the good old days when you could run a search specifying a particular batch number for a particular place. This is distressing news (no, I don't want to search the behemoth that is the 68-million-and-counting England Births and Christenings database, I'd actually like to narrow it down a lot first, and by the way births and christenings are two very different things), so I guess we must learn to have faith in FamilySearch's new-and-improved Place field.

The 1881 census is only temporarily AWOL - phew!

I actually found the Guide helpful, not so much from the "where is it" perspective but for the clear insight it gave along the way into the fundamental principles behind the changes. I was pleasantly surprised by how eminently reasonable it all sounded.

However I shall bite my tongue and rant on the inside wait until I've had more time to fairly evaluate the other aspects of the changes before commenting. Some of these are most definitely improvements, lest you think I'm not super-excited about scanned original source records being available online for free, because I can't get enough of that action. More, more, cries the greedy genealogist!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Why indeed

Amy of the We Tree Genealogy Blog periodically publishes Fun With Search Terms, a very entertaining look at some of the phrases that bring people to her blog. The search phrases that bring people to my website are invariably on-topic and thus not quite as amusing, but over November people out there pondered:

* why did they build Wing Buckinghamshire (why, indeed, I'm just happy they did)

* "gommon recipes" and "partridges larded" (I'm more intrigued by a kid with a pudding in his belly myself - what kind of pudding? Incidentally, I now have this cookbook as a ebook on my Kobo so I shall look it up and find out)

* effects of over plaiting (depends on whether you mean hair or straw, apparently pregnancy is a side-effect for the latter)

* compare hamlet and an extract from the office for receivers (?)

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Who are you?

The following photos were provided by Linda, a descendent of the BOLTON family. Can anyone identify anyone in these photos?

Update - the cap features the badge of the Royal Warwickshire Regt.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Family Historian - data conversion comments

Now that I have "real" genealogy software, I had to convert my existing data. The initial steps were relatively simple - export from PAF to GEDCOM, import GEDCOM into Family Historian, hope for the best. Unless a really obvious error is flagged by the import process, you can only look to see that everything looks approximately okay (because we all have photographic memories and can remember all the details of the hundreds or thousands of people in our family tree off the top of our heads, right?), then look at some sample individuals you do know well to see exactly how everything has translated across into the new software.

First comment: I really should have some official sources for myself, my brother and my parents. My dad was the only one with an external source - look, I can prove he exists as I have a copy of the birth announcement in The Times (London). Turns out I (or, rather, my genealogy software a.k.a. my other brain) even know what hospital he was born in!

Second comment: for census records I had previously been adding two separate events/attributes in PAF, one for the census and one for the residence(assuming the address was more specific than just the name of the village). Family Historian enables you to attach both a place AND an address to any fact, so I would now need to go through and consolidate the census information together into one fact. Also on the address front, there's a nice feature to list all the places in your database, identify the near-duplicates, check out which records they are attached to, and tidy them up so they are recorded exactly the same if appropriate - nice!

Third comment: I use the Notes field in PAF to record the research process for that person, search terms I used, records I know exist and might be useful but that I can't access, general comments or snippets about that person, and more. This has come across a single note for each person but can now be split up into different types of notes in Family Historian (including notes that apply to the family group rather than the individual).

Fourth comment: I seem to be avoiding looking into the whole source citation area - I suspect there is some cleanup required on this part of the conversion. A perfect time to tidy up all those sources, but possibly a big job. I'll ease into it by reading the chapter in the Family Historian guidebook first!

Sunday, December 05, 2010

A Christmas present for me

I've finally done it - I've purchased genealogy software. After almost a decade of genealogy in my life, it was certainly time! No longer will I putter along in PAF (although I'm sure it will continue to sit on my USB drive in case I ever need to refer to it while out and about), I have a shiny new copy of Family Historian to use instead.

Of course, timing not being my strong point, I chose to purchase this now knowing full well I'm going to be reformatting the computer in a few weeks time so will have to reinstall it. But, on the other hand, shiny Christmas present for me!

When the shiny present feeling has worn off, I'll be sure to post on the trials and tribulations of converting and checking my PAF data.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Mastering MyMaps

The first custom map I created using Google MyMaps shows the location of mills in Wing. Over at the One Place Studies website I created a map showing the location of each one place study listed. This was intended to make it easier to identify neighbouring one place studies, which of course could be across county or country borders. I hit a small snag, though, when I got to the 201st study - after 200 markers Google MyMaps paginates the list of markers. The impact of this is that when looking at the embedded map you don't see any markers on the map that aren't on the first page of the marker listings (or, rather, aren't on the same page as the page I happened to be sitting on when I created the link to embed a particular view of the map). This was really disappointing as it destroyed the whole purpose of the maps.

After much wailing, this has now been fixed, and in case I ever have the same problem (or anyone else out there has the same problem) I thought I would document the process. I figured this out thanks to helpful posts on the Google MyMaps support forum which lead me to here and here.

Firstly, I had to combine the two existing maps I had created, England and non-England, back into a single map. For those wrestling with their own MyMaps, you need to Edit the source map you want to copy from, right-click on the View In Google Earth link and copy the link location, then go into the destination map, Edit and Import.

Secondly, I had to re-order the markers on the newly combined map back in the order I wanted them in and save the new map. Random isn't such a good option going forward should I ever need to find and edit a marker!

Thirdly, Edit the new map and copy the Google Earth link location for it, then paste that into the Search Maps box up the top and click on Search Maps. What this essentially does is enable you to see a virtual dynamic copy of your original map, without paginating the markers, that automatically updates when your underlying saved MyMap is updated.

Fourthly, while you have the virtual map open (and without saving it), you can then use the usual Link options to create the link to embed the desired map view into your webpage. Should you need to create any new embedded links at a future date you can repeat the third and fourth step to access the virtual map again.

The really good news is that doing all that seems to have fixed the glitch whereby the links in most of the markers weren't opening up in the whole webpage - but now they do! This problem was quite frustrating as it meant that anyone using those links weren't actually getting to the website they wanted to visit and could only view it in a comparatively small window. It also gave the impression that the information in those studies was part of the One Place Studies index site which was the last thing I wanted - everyone working on a one place study deserves their due credit for their hard work in providing that resource!

If you haven't checked out the One Place Studies website yet, take a look and see if anyone is working on a study for any of your ancestral places. If you have your own genealogy website, how might Google MyMaps help illustrate what you are doing?

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

December update

Last month I found a photograph of a WILLIS gravestone on Flickr, and the photographer Keith has given me permission to include it on the website. So there is an update to the Memorial Inscriptions section, a new page for the Willis family.

Also updated is the straw plaiting page, with mention of a cholera outbreak affecting the straw plait school in 1871.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Desperately Seeking Sacky

Anyone know who 'Sacky' Hounslow of Wing, as featured in these photographs from the 1940s, was? Enquiring minds want to know!

Monday, November 08, 2010

One Place Studies website

Today I'm proud to announce the launch of the One Place Studies website. The Index of One Place Studies previously maintained by John Palmer of the Wirksworth OPS has been updated and expanded, and the website has a range of resources to help those of us undertaking one place studies. These resources will grow over time (it's a bit lean at the moment!) as we all contribute to the pool of knowledge.

I'd like to thank the following who provided elements of the site:

* My old friends Katrina and Michael Thompson of katproductions who provided the webspace for this project - thanks, guys!
* Arcsin for the website template
* phpBB for the open-source software for the forums, and A1ex (no, not me) for the SkyBlue style template used
* Google Maps
* for the social media buttons

If you're interested in one place studies, please come over, check it out, and get chatting on the forums. If you're interested in genealogy (and you know you are), see if there's a study for any of your ancestors' places. And spread the word!

Saturday, November 06, 2010


17 July 1927 - 6 November 1990

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Happy Blogiversary to me!

Today I am four years old! And this year I remembered my blogiversary!

This blog isn't my main online presence (that would be here. And here. And from next week, here. What can I say, these things happen!) so I don't have time for it to be as fabulous as some other genealogy blogs (you know who you are - yes, you!), but I hope you enjoy popping by all the same (plus there are bribes goodie bags at my blogiversary party, filled with warm fuzzies, RAOGKs, and climbing gear for those brick walls). Enjoy, and thanks for coming!*

* Yes, I have abused the exclamation mark just a leeetle bit in this post. But I'm four! I'm allowed!

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

November update

It's November so I'm pleased to announce another addition to the list of Wing military men serving in WW1, Archibald Pitchford.

I was alerted to Archie by an email from a relative. This does demonstrate that there will be men from Wing who served in WW1 or other conflicts that I don't yet have listed, most likely because I can only easily find them in records that are searchable by birthplace. This can be difficult if the birthplace was stated in the underlying record but not extracted and included in the index I was using, which was the case with Archie's record in the WO363 series. You may have identified a serviceman's record where the birthplace isn't stated at all but you know from other information that it's definitely a Wing man, or a serviceman who wasn't born in Wing but lived in Wing! Please do check to make sure your father/grandfather/their siblings from Wing that served are included in my list, and if they're missing send me an email with their details.

We will remember them.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

One Place Studies

Are you undertaking a one-place-study and haven't spoken (emailed/posted) to me about this in the last moonth?

I am taking over maintaining the One Place Study Index (currently found on John Palmer's Wirksworth site) and giving it its own website. Along with the index of studies will be articles and networking opportunities to help out those of us working on a one-place-study. The existing Index is getting a big revamp as part of this as many sites/emails have changed and there are many more out there to discover, so please do get in touch if you'd like to be listed.

The new website should be live in early November and I'll be sure to show her off to you then!

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Many colours of the rainbow

Inspired by Sussex boy John over at The Wandering Genealogist, I present a statistical representation of the birthplaces of my 3xgreat-grandparents.

It makes for a particularly unattractive graph colour-wise, no? Nonetheless, I shall embrace my diversity, as it turns out not every road leads to Buckinghamshire.

Still here

I am still here, just being very quiet. I'm hard at work on a new one-place-study-related project - see you in November!

Friday, October 01, 2010

October update

It's poll month this month! The Wing folk from the 1831 Buckinghamshire poll have been added, along with Wing residents who owned land and voted in the 1807 Bedfordshire poll. I've also expanded the 1784 Buckinghamshire poll entries so you can see who everyone voted for. Enjoy!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Can you help? Poll books

Wing residents from several years' polling in Buckinghamshire and Bedfordshire are currently listed on the website. I'm aware of the following years of Buckinghamshire poll books that survive but that I don't yet have - do you have access to them (available at Centre for Buckinghamshire Studies and other places), and if so can you get me scans or photocopies of the page for Wing? To be complete, I'd also like a copy of the title page, and as a bonus, details of any Wing residents listed in other parishes - unfortunately I don't think these will be nicely indexed for you though!

1685 - 1700 - 1701 - 1702 - 1710 - 1713 - 1734

From 1841 to 1890 almost a complete run exists of the annual electoral registers - these registers list those eligible to vote, rather than recording actual votes cast as the poll books do.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Falling in love

I'm just finishing up on the three-week One Place Studies course I'm taking with Pharos Tutors. This has been a very interesting experience - as well as high quality course materials there certainly is a lot of value in being able to interact with a group of fellow genealogists, all intelligent, committed to the course subject and from a variety of backgrounds and experiences. Lots of fun and knowledge to be gained by bouncing ideas and results off each other! Check out Pharos Tutors to see if there's an upcoming course that interests you.

Here in NZ, Rabobank advertises using the slogan "your significant other bank". It turns out I may have a significant other one-place-study (as well as a Top Secret Genealogy Project that you will hear about later). I'm a little bit in love with the hamlet of Tilford in Farnham, Surrey, now. I tell you, places are addictive!

Monday, September 06, 2010

Twiglet on the tree

I'm an aunty!

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

September update

This month I've done a bit more housekeeping, adding notes on the usage of old-style versus new-style dates where appropriate, along with details of the administrative boundaries of Wing to the gazetteers page.

New to the wills page is the will of William RICKARD, "late of Slapton and now of Stanbridge" who owned property in Wing and elsewhere when he died in early 1841. William evidently didn't have children, so many brothers, nephews, nieces and other individuals received bequests. If you're connected to RICKARD, BONE, PRICE, BUCKMASTER, or FOUNTAINE in Wing or surrounding parishes this will is worth a look.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Milton Keynes Heritage Open Days

If you're in the Beds/Bucks area in early September, check out the Milton Keynes Heritage Open Days. There's a variety of events of interest to genealogists and historians, not just in Milton Keynes itself.

In Imaginary Land, where I have unlimited time and money to be there, you'll see me at:

* Reading Old Handwriting workshop
* Old Fashioned Games at Bradwell Windmill (in costume!)
* Bees, Hives and Honey with the North Bucks Beekeepers Association
* The Loneliest Church In Bucks - Tattenhoe Monument and Howe Park Wood

and probably many more - these things are easy to schedule in Imaginary Land!

Note that All Saints Church at Wing is participating in the Historic Churches Ride & Stride event. This is a sponsored event to raise funds for the Historic Churches Trust and the church of your choice - All Saints, perhaps?

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

What's in your inbox?

I'm still here, honestly, I'm just very quiet online this month! I've been very busy at work (the day job, not genealogy), so the month is flying by very quickly. Any spare snippets of genealogy time I've had have been devoted to my WHITEs of Dorset and the LATHWELL one-name-study.

Some interesting genealogical emails have also come my way this month. The first was an enquiry about the likely location of the Royal Oak pub in Ascott, which I was able to answer thanks to some previous information provided by David. The second was a possible candidate for John BULL who appears on the Wing War Memorial for WWII - there's a chance a single marriage certificate might be enough to prove or disprove the connection, if only I had unlimited funds to look into such leads! And the last was an email from someone researching the history of their home in Deddington Oxfordshire - one of the earliest owners in the mid-17th century was a JAKEMAN, which is my family, but it's 40 years or so earlier than my own research currently goes back. I must find time for a library visit to relook at the OFHS parish register transcripts and see if the link can be made....

Has anyone else had any interesting genealogical emails lately?

Sunday, August 01, 2010

August update

This month I've added the names of some more Wing people with wills held at the Centre for Buckinghamshire Studies. The surnames involved are

BURCOTT (from 1556 - perhaps the namesame of the hamlet?)

While paging through the entries for Wing in the CBS online index I noticed quite a variety of interesting spellings (eg Folentyne and Wuster), so do watch out for this if you are searching for your own families there.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Train my geneabrain!

In my continuing quest to bite off more than I can chew (at least, more than I have time for), I've just taken two steps towards training my geneabrain.

I've signed up for the One Place Study course at Pharos. Pharos is affiliated with the Society of Genealogists and offers online courses on a wide variety of general and UK-specific genealogical subjects. I'm hoping to pick up some fresh perspectives and, dare I say it, a more rigorous methodology to my madness? Secretly I'd love to do the assessed certificate but unfortunately I appear to be short the £450 I'd need. If you're interested in one place studies, why don't you join me on the course? It starts 31 August and is £33.

To keep me entertained over the next month until the course starts, I've purchased a copy of Evidence Explained by Elizabeth Shown Mills. This book has sections on the fundamentals of evidence analysis and the fundamentals of citation, followed by extensive discussions and examples of the different types and forms of historical records we are likely to encounter and how to correctly cite them in our genealogical software and writing. It's a relatively expensive reference book in physical form, but the first edition can be purchased online in PDF form at for a much more affordable USD25. I'm already casting an aghast eye at some of my webpages, so expect to see some tweaks being made to get them ship-shape.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Picture perfect

Seen the new-look Google Image Search yet? It hasn't yet been rolled out to or but is operational on

In a nutshell it's prettier (particularly if your ancestors were from West Lulworth in Dorset and you were searching for photos of that particularly stunning location!), has a lot more images on the first results page, has a pop-up box as you mouse over images to give you more information about the image, and has better filters including image size and predominant colour palette.

I can't help thinking that all this ease of use may lead to increased copyright breaches - remember to ask permission to use any photos you find on the internet unless they are clearly tagged with a Creative Commons licence or similar, and follow any attribution or other rules attached to the image.

Note that I haven't bothered hyperlinking to Google in this post as your browser will probably auto-direct you to your local version of Google - if this isn't you should have a link on the local version page whereby you can "Go to".

As in the past, the search function may bring up some not-so-accurate images based on the words surrounding the image - I found a familiar image when searching for Wing Buckinghamshire...

Monday, July 19, 2010

NZ Family History Fair 2010

From what I saw attending on the one day only, the organisation and execution of the first NZ Family History Fair was excellent. One of the seminars I attended was by the newly-elected-President of the NZ Society of Genealogists Fiona Brooker, who seemed particularly lovely and has awesome digital scrapbooking skills! I'm part-way through a project to name my grandad's photos by loading them into Photoshop Elements pages, looks like I must try harder...

My impression of the seminar list before going, that these weren't targeted at or that useful for the more experienced genealogist, was probably correct based on the sessions I attended (which were mostly from the Sharing My Past For the Future stream rather than the more-obviously-beginner streams). It would be interesting to see what the experience levels of attendees were - most people seemed to be NZSG members attending for the whole weekend so you would think that there would be a reasonable level of experience there. While the seminars were okay, I don't know that I would go out of my way in future. I also didn't purchase anything from exhibitors/retailers as there wasn't much that was relevant to my area of interest - one of the problems of living in one country and researching solely in another.

Meeting some online people in real life was worth the trip to Hamilton though - I met up with Brett, the Photo-Sleuth at lunch, after a false start where we thought we were in the same seminar in the morning. I was therefore smiling optimistically at every lone male entering my seminar, but then it turned out Brett was in an entirely different room....

I was also able to meet Seonaid Lewis, the family history librarian from the Auckland City Library - I'll be sure to pop into the library again sometime soon.

I do think that I can learn more about my ancestors and their lives (and how to research my ancestors and their lives) by doing what I've been doing on my own, rather than being a member of NZSG or attending any generic genealogical education events, and I definitely get more energy, enthusiasm and ideas from the geneablogging and tweeting community. So I'll keep on doing what I'm doing, starting today when I have the day off work!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Bookshelf: Village Sketches by Whitehead

Village Sketches descriptive of club and school festivals and other village gatherings and institutions
By TC Whitehead, M.A., Incumbent of Gawcott, Buckinghamshire
Published by Bosworth & Harrison (London) 1861
Available on Google Books

As I have an interest in 19th-century Buckinghamshire (ahem) this was a must-read. Thomas Clark Whitehead had been resident in Gawcott for a decade when he wrote this outline of his various initiatives to improve the lot of the residents.

One problem that has echoed through the ages has been the difficulty of keeping teenage boys out of mischief. In the time Whitehead was writing, boys would leave school at around the age of eight, and have a surplus of energy and nothing constructive to do with it after their day's work in the fields was over. In summer cricket was very popular (one chapter describes the big event of a match between Gawcott and "the small town of W____ about 7 miles off" - sadly this is not Wing, I suspect it may be Winslow as it does have a "Bell" pub as mentioned in this text) but in winter the boys were problematic. A Night Club was introduced whereby the boys could use the schoolroom for whatever they wanted, and it turns out what they wanted most, once they had been taught how, was to play chess!

Another fascinating snippet was the description of the boys attending astronomy lectures, followed by the use of a borrowed telescope to gaze up at the night sky. This is certainly not something I had envisaged our rural ancestors doing either.

Other chapters cover the children's lending library, the village tea party (just how did you manage hot water for cups of tea for 230 people?) and school "treat" day which was an outdoor picnic with games, a penny bank, friendly clubs, and the village school.

I must confess I took the liberty of skipping the sermons at the end of the book. However the remainder of this book was an illuminating look into a rural Buckinghamshire village in the mid-19th century and I was surprised by how much I learned from it.

There are plenty of wonderful out-of-copyright books freely available online that can give you insight into the lives of your ancestors - what treasures have you found lately? Please post a comment and let me know.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Off to NZ Family History Fair 2010

My ancestry chart is printed, my totebag is packed, my very-limited-edition geneacards are ready (click on the pic to see the larger version - I promise to devote the next twelve months to nurturing any graphic design skills I may have buried deep deep deep down, so next year's effort can do footnoteMaven proud - this year I will just pretend that a streamlined text-only look was what I was going for), my netbook and cellphone are fully charged - on Sunday I'll be at the first NZ Family History Fair for the day. Most of the time I'll be in seminars, hoping to pick up useful tidbits, but I'll also be meeting fellow blogger Photo-Sleuth Brett, and Seonaid the Auckland City Library genebrarian. Watch for my report on Monday!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

What was your grandmother's occupation?

Dick Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter had a wee gem in it this weekend that I hadn't seen before - check this out. I look forward to seeing what WDYTYA discovers about Alexander Armstrong's real family tree!

Friday, July 09, 2010

What I Do

Thomas at Geneabloggers has suggested that we post some info about the power under the hood, the technology that we use to support our genealogy activities. So, just this once, I'll play along with the rest of the meme-rs. I can't help it, it's the tech geek in me coming out, although I'll cut it short as I'm under orders to locate some dinner....

* Hardware: The desktop computer's pretty elderly now but it runs an AMD Athlon 64 X2 dual core processor at 3.02GHz, 4Gb RAM, with Vista Ultimate 64-bit. The baby computer is an Acer Aspire One netbook.

* External storage: Seagate 500Gb external desktop drive for backups (lives offsite, under my desk at work).

* Online storage: don't use. Those with NZ broadband costs/speeds/datacaps will understand why.

* Backup: GFI Backup 2009 Home Edition (freeware!)

* Virus protection: AVG (freeware!)

* Mobile media: iPod Nano (blue - if I'd bought it myself it would have been a (Product) Red - you did need to know the colour, right?) on which I can listen to the various genealogy podcasts

* eBook Reader: Kobo (I'll be blogging regularly about my genealogy/history finds for this)

* Browser: Firefox. There is no other.

* Blog: Blogger.

* RSS: I read blog feeds using the Blogger Dashboard, and other RSS feeds direct in Firefox

* FTP: FireFTP (extension for Firefox) gets my website updates where they need to be

* Accounting: you don't really want to go there with an accountant, do you?

* PDF generator: doPDF

* Genealogy database: PAF - yes, I know. The only full genealogy program I've seen that I liked is Family Historian, but it just doesn't work at all on a netbook screen so I haven't been able to justify the price (refer: Accounting).

* Genealogy tools: key tools off the top of my head are Transcript, Genopro, and Parloc

Outlook for genealogy

Recently I was chatting to @OutlookChick on Twitter about using Microsoft Outlook for genealogy. Long story short, I've just guest-blogged on her Arrow Tips Outlook blog about it - check it out and let us know what you think.

Friday, July 02, 2010

Neighbouring Stewkley

Did your Wing folk wander over to neighbouring Stewkley? If so, you might be interested in this wee book on Ebay.

History of Stewkley by Mayne and Capp - good local names, those!

I have no affiliation with the seller (that I know of - I see they live in Wing), and they also have a copy of the 1951 Guide to Ascott House listed if that takes your fancy.

(I'm on an Ebay budget, in case you were wondering - well, more of a fast than a budget, things mount up quickly when you have to factor in overseas postage so I'm trying to resist temptation)

Thursday, July 01, 2010

July update

Drumroll please......I have transcribed the 1911 census enumerator summary books for Wing and they are now on the website. These are NOT the detailed pages for each household. The summary books only have a single line of information for each household, showing the surname of the head-of-household and a breakdown of the males vs females in the household.

Given that some of the information from the 1911 census has been redacted (specifically the infirmity column), I'm not planning on transcribing the individual households until that last piece of information becomes available in 2012. My philosophy has always been that any transcription I make available on the website should represent a full and complete transcription of the underlying document, and obviously that couldn't be the case here yet.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Bookshelf: Village Sketches

In my quest to find interesting genealogical or historical reading for my new Kobo e-reader, I've just come across this potential treasure in Google Books.

"Village Sketches descriptive of club and school festivals and other village gatherings and institutions" by TC Whitehead of Gawcott, Buckinghamshire, published in 1861

I may have squealed just a little when I saw it was Buckinghamshire-related. And now to download and read it!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Find My Past - free access during England games

If you're not a football fan, then you'll appreciate this offer of free access to Find My Past while England games are being played.

If you are a football fan, then hopefully you have a laptop to perch in front of the TV with. Genealogists, multitask!

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

NZ Family History Fair

New Zealand is having its first Family History Fair! No longer will I cast envious sideways looks at bloggers reporting back from Who Do You Think You Are in London, or Jamboree in California (have fun this weekend, you guys), now I can be one of them......

I'll just be heading down to Hamilton for the Sunday. After perusing the seminar line-up, discarding those specific to NZ or Australian research and those that look like they might be targeted more at the beginner, I've chosen the following:

* Genealogy Privacy Issues
* Researching in England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales (mainly to see if they mention one-place-studies as a valuable resource!)
* Digitally Publishing Your Family Story
* Digital Photography - Blessing or Curse?
* Organising and Preserving Your Research

This will hopefully leave enough time to check out the exhibitors - more of the overseas big names are attending than I would have expected.

If you're in NZ, are you going?

(Updated to add - must brush up on Amy's Rock Star's Guide To Genealogy Conferences!)

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

June update

As you might expect given my lack of genea-time (and genea-inclination) over the last few weeks, this month's update is a little lean. There are two new WW1 military men - WILLIS and YATES. And that's all this time round.

In other news, I've just bought a Kobo eReader (first one officially available in NZ - for some unknown reason we are very behind the rest of the world on this) and of course I'm looking to fill it with good books of all centuries! Feel free to post recommendations, be they the e-pub version of a good genealogy resource, or a public-domain treasure that sends us back to English days gone by.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Blue moon

It's been a relatively genealogy-free month for me this month. One week of that was because I was overseas, on holiday at Trinity Beach in Queensland Australia. So lovely.....

Towards the end of our trip we discovered Blue Moon Grill. If you are ever in the area (or not, it's worth going significantly out of your way for), stop in for a meal - I had fish of the day, which was more like fish of a lifetime! The food is amazing and the staff are hilarious - do download their menu and make sure you read the fine print!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Rothschilds

Is anyone else out there too busy for much genealogy this month? The one thing I have done is read "Rothschild: A Story of Wealth and Power" by Derek Wilson, which didn't have as much mention of the Wing branch of the family as I would have liked but was quite interesting all the same, particularly the early years in Europe and England. I've also read "The Rothschilds At Waddesdon Manor" by Mrs James de Rothschild, which was obviously about Waddesdon rather than Ascott - this had some great photos and descriptions of the construction of Waddesdon Manor.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

A task of military precision

I've now gathered as many medal roll index cards as I can find for the Wing men who served in WW1 (as listed on the WW1 page, obviously there will be more as-yet-unidentified men). This means that for most of those men I now have at least two separate documents or records of their military service - on my computer there's 10 subdirectories for the different sources I've used.

I need to spend some time revisiting those documents and cross-checking the information contained in them. In some cases there will be additions or corrections to the information on the WW1 page. I'm not planning to extend the information online at this stage though - it's intended to be more of an index, listing basic information about these men's service and the documents I'm aware of that exist for them, so that you have the necessary information to research further as required. Extended profiles of at least one of those men may well appear here on the blog though, so that you can see the kinds of things you might find in those records.

I'm toying with implementing a formal structure to this cross-checking process by picking up some of the ideas from Mark Tucker's Research Documents, in particular the research analysis document. How many of us document the process and resulting "facts" of our research in such a comprehensive way? I found these templates really valuable when looking for the burial of one of my COLES ancestors, and captured within them a lot of useful information about potential burial locations, who holds the burial records, and how easy (or not) it is for me to access those records from NZ - when I next decide to look at it, I'll know exactly what I've ruled out and where to go to see how the necessary digitisation projects are progressing. I think the Research Analysis document, with a little customisation, will be ideal to consolidate each serviceman's records.

The genealogical in-tray (should I call it the GIT for short? it has a certain ring to it, no?) has now officially reached overflow proportions, and this military task will take up some time. If only I didn't keep dreaming up new projects for myself!

Saturday, May 01, 2010

May update

I'm very excited to announce an unusual contribution to the website this month. Ken Bandy has been working on a dictionary of phrases unique (more or less) to Wing and has kindly agreed to share this with us all. So clar over to the website and and get chopsing!

Also new this month is a transcription of the plaques at the entrance to Evelyn Close - this street is itself a war memorial. You can see these plaques at the Military page. Thanks to Lynn for the photos.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

The cancellation button

I really did it, I followed through on my decision to cancel my subscription.

Incidentally, the good folks at Ancestry must keep an eye on the blogosphere as they spotted my initial post and lodged an incident report offering to check on my renewal quote as the prices apparently haven't increased in the last year. I've checked that the amount I was quoted for my renewal was the correct current price, so that suggests I might have been undercharged for some reason last year (I have the confirmation emails for each year from 2006 onwards so I know exactly what I was charged each year). So I shall count my blessings for the enjoyment I've had over the last year, and move on to focus on other resources in the coming year.

Some other websites that I didn't mention last time that also offer a range of
online English records are:
* British Origins who offer a reasonable 72-hour access package. In the past I've found their various indices never provide quite enough information in the index to be sure it's my own family member, but I may well do another 72-hour stint at some stage to see what I can find.
* doesn't have anything at the moment that looks like an intriguing lead (sadly none of my lot were posh enough for public school) but I'll be keeping an eye on any new databases they add.
* Roots UK has surname distribution maps that may well tempt me.....
* The National Archives Documents Online services has more than just the PCC wills and it will be interesting to see what pops up in future. I've just spotted some free-to-download poor law union correspondence - if I find anything in here that covers the poor law unions my ancestors lived in that correspondence will be colourful background reading.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Plodding on

As promised, I've been plodding on making sure I'm getting as much research done as possible in before my subscription expires. In a move that's sure to prove foolhardy, not everything is making it into my PAF file at the time I discover it - I now have a sturdy stack of printouts to add "when I get around to it", mostly for siblings of my direct ancestors. There's been some lovely discoveries, like signatures of witnesses on marriage certificates, and yesterday I even located a long-standing missing entry for one of my ancestors in the 1861 census (still no sign of the elusive Elizabeth Gardiner in 1901 though, grrrr).

I've also remembered to grab the last couple of WO363 military records for Wing-born men, so Wing has not been forgotten.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

London addresses

I'm currently wrestling with exactly how to load London addresses into my genealogy file. This isn't such a problem for non-London addresses as the parish and village are generally the same and the street name is often non-existent.

In the source attached to any event I've been quite specific in listing full parish name (eg St David West Holloway), then the broad suburb (eg Islington), then county (eg Middlesex). However in terms of actually filling in the address field of the event the lines get blurred.

Part of the problem I think stems from the fact that PAF only has a certain amount of space to print addresses, so I know it will abbreviate parts of it to initials only when I print out the individual's summary page - understandable, but useless in practice. This means I have a tendency to try and abbreviate things myself - no point putting "24 Alfred Street, St David West Holloway, Islington, Middlesex" when I know on printouts it will just show "24 Alfred Street, SDWH, I, Middlesex". I'm thinking I might change my self-imposed rule and just put the Chapman code for the county instead of spelling out the county in full but this won't get me back that many characters.

Another part of the problem is the fact that I'm not a Londoner myself so my geographical grasp of suburbs is probably pretty shaky - it bugs me that I don't know if I'm using the name it would actually be known as in practice! I've just printed out most of the sections of this excellent 1877 parish map, and I think I could standardise this by using the poor law union name as the suburb name.

My brain also wants to use "London" rather than "Middlesex", even though London should only really be used for the City of London area.

And don't even get me started on the frequent parish boundary changes and name changes for those London parishes!

Does anyone have any suggestions as to how they approach this? Do I really need to include the parish name as part of the address so long as I've got it in the source? Am I overthinking the whole thing?

Friday, April 09, 2010

I'm Ancestor Approved!

Thanks to the lovely Sheri over at The Educated Genealogist for the nomination. [UPDATED - also to the lovely Greta at Greta's Genealogy Blog *blush*]

Disclaimer: official rules state disclosure of 10 things you have learned about your ancestors that has surprised, humbled, or enlightened you, plus ten other blogger nominations. Ten seems an AWFUL lot, and it's Friday evening and I've already opened a cider, so here's three things I've experienced from this week's research in the (virtual) London Metropolitan Archives, and a virtual cider for everyone who reads this blog - thanks for being part of my online genealogical journey.

AAAAAA! - I discovered new (shortlived) baby siblings for my grandmother and great-grandmother. Don't you love those genealogical discovery moments when you go "aaaaa!" just a bit too loud and scare the cat? Hilda Alice WHITE (1903) and Edwin Leslie HALL (1904), welcome to the family!

OOOOOOH - "Blown Up" or "Kill'd by Explosion of Powder" is not something you want to read on a burial record. I'm glad to live in a time when the chance of being blown up by the local gunpowder mill is fairly minimal.

HMMMMMM - I found a probable baptism for my Charles AUGER which claims his parents were George and Lucy Auger - except Lucy was unmarried according to subsequent census records. Frankly I'm more inclined to believe Lucy managed to get away with telling fibs when baptising Charles.

Thursday, April 08, 2010 - The Decision

Today my car had to go to the doctor for the third time this year. I believe this is the universe assisting me with my Ancestry subscription renewal decision - so the decision is in, and it's a No.

This means I have to stay very focused and organised over the next three weeks to maximise my access before it ends. I've been spending quality time with the London Metropolitan Archives databases this week and have found many useful parish register entries. In particular I was very happy to see that a sizeable chunk of the records for the two churches in Twickenham 1800-1900 were now included, as I have multiple lines going through there, and going page by page through all the pre 1812 unindexed entries for Twickenham St Mary's has also proven valuable - although sadly my Alexander and Jane HUGHES appear to have married prior to 1800 (or perhaps not in Twickenham, as I have found a potential Alexander and Jane marrying in St James Picadilly Westminster in April 1800 - from what I've seen this name combination isn't common so it just might be them).

Monday, April 05, 2010

GRO orders - removal of reference checking

I was ordering some certificates today ahead of the fee increase at the GRO tomorrow, and it seems there has been a further late change to this. They are now scrapping the reference checking facility altogether effective tomorrow, 6 April. In the past, if a reference check was specified and it turned out to be the wrong certificate you were only charged a partial fee - now you will have to take your chances and pay to have the certificate issued regardless. So if you have any you think may fall into that category, order them today!

Historical Streets Project

The reason I was meandering through's Help yesterday was because I have just realised that Old Search enabled you to search a particular census by piece and folio number, but New Search doesn't as far as I can tell. Very annoying - I was looking for one of my ancestors in the 1871 census, who as luck would have it had banns read in late March and married in early April 1871, both with the same street address given as his residence. I therefore had the address he *should* be living at in the 1871 census, and just needed to locate the page for that address. I was able to find the piece and folio numbers thanks to the excellent Historical Streets Project of the National Archives, but had to switch back to Old Search on Ancestry in order to utilise that information.

After all that I found the page for that address in St Pancras but my Edmund WHITE is not there. Some extensive digging later I discover an Edward White of the right age and occupation but no birthplace given, a visitor at an address in Paddington. The streetname looked vaguely familiar - and lo, it was the same address my Edmund was known to be living a year later, so I'm happy that Edward is in fact Edmund. Happy dance!

Sunday, April 04, 2010

1911 census summary books

While meandering through the Help database in, I came across the following:

1911 England and Wales Census Summary Books
Question: When will the 1911 England and Wales Census Summary Books be available?
Answer: Early Release of the 1911 UK Census - We have now reached an agreement with the National Archives to release the 1911 England and Wales Census Summary Books. The Summary Books are projected to be released some time during 2010.

This item was last updated on 31 December 2009. One could speculate from this that we won't see the household pages themselves on Ancestry any time soon (perhaps they will end up waiting until the non-redacted versions are available in 2012) but the summary pages (the supplementary lists with one line per household showing the address, occupier name, and headcount) will be coming shortly.

Suffice to say, those summary pages would be *extremely* useful for the Wing One Place Study.

A love-hate relationship has been messing with me today.

Firstly, I found my grandmother's baptism by manually browsing the London parish and year I had been told she was baptised in. Hurray!

However she doesn't come up easily on a search as her forename has been mispelled - given the underlying record I'll give Ancestry the benefit of the doubt on that one.

Secondly, I discovered she had an older sister - a surprise, and hurray! I did this by searching for her parents names in conjunction with the parish name that my grandmother was baptised in.

However, her parents names are George and Alice Martha. I wanted to see if they perhaps had other children I didn't know about baptised elsewhere, so I removed the parish name, and included mother Alice's middle name with the "Exact" box ticked. Hey presto, it doesn't find ANY entries, even the two I know are in there! I know for a fact that Alice's middle name is included on the transcription because I can see it on the two entries I found earlier. So, Ancestry, why does your search engine do this?

The surname is a very common one, so if I remove the Exact tickbox on the forename it finds 27,395 possible entries and doesn't show the George and Alice Martha ones first. *Sigh*

Saturday, April 03, 2010


In yesterday's post you may remember that I mentioned there was quite the backlog of information to process in relation to the Wing One Place Study, and also that I wanted to spend time this year concentrating on my personal genealogy. As always, good intentions have flown out the window....

I rediscovered It's a one-place-study's dream, particularly if that one place happens to have its own civil registration subdistrict as Wing does. From the annual reports of the Registrar General I've downloaded statistics on the numbers of births and deaths registered in Wing in the 1841 to 1881 period (still to get the later years). Who knows what other gems are hiding on that website to jump out and distract me?

Here's 1871's report with Wing near the bottom of the page (click to enlarge) - 15 illegitimate births registered that year out of 112 total.

Friday, April 02, 2010

A world without

Yesterday I received my annual renewal reminder email from Last year I had difficulty affording the annual subscription fee - and this year it has increased by 29%. The exchange rate between the NZ dollar and the UK pound might be the best it's ever been (so it didn't actually convert to as high a number as I was expecting) but it's still getting up there.

Has the time come for me to put my money where my mouth is - i.e. firmly at home with the in-tray full of resources waiting to be studied, transcribed and incorporated into my personal genealogy, the one-place-study and the one-name-study? But what would my genealogy world look like without the instant gratification of immediate access to Ancestry? I've never contemplated such a thing before. Although I use a wide range of online and offline resources Ancestry is fairly central to my genealogy workflow, but perhaps it needn't be that way.

I certainly have more than enough to be going on with as far as the Wing One Place Study is concerned - frankly, the discipline this exile might impose is probably a good thing! But I was determined to make serious inroads into my father's side of things this year and this would definitely make that task more challenging.

Some of that money I wouldn't spend on Ancestry would no doubt (in an emergency only of course, but let's not kid ourselves that emergencies don't exist even though everyone involved has been dead for decades if not centuries) end up in the pockets of the alternative sites. Options like:
* who I see offer a 20% loyalty discount on their subscription renewals - something which would have made a difference to my current opinion of Ancestry had they had a similar deal. Nothing like being a continuous subscriber for several years and not getting any discount at all to make you feel valued!
* who I'd never been tempted to give any money to as their website did a really bad job of providing specifics about what you might actually get for your money - however I see that they have improved in that respect.

After the initial shock, I have to admit I'm actually not so scared by the idea of going cold-turkey. So what do you think - should I embark on this, my great experimental Ancestry-free year? Or shall I save that for 2011, when the impact of exchange rate changes will likely give me a much larger shock?

Thursday, April 01, 2010

April update

Here's what's new to the website this month.

* Memorial inscriptions (for the BRAY, CUTLER, KENNING, PIDGLEY and RANDALL families) - if you have photos or transcriptions of your family's gravestones at All Saints Church that aren't yet included, please email me the details

* Some new marriage strays for the CUTLER family

* A bit of a rejig of the For Sale page - times change and the census records for 1841 to 1901 are now pretty much available anywhere!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Guy's Tonic

2, Aylesbury Road, Wing, Bucks
My Daughter, who is suffering with a very bad Ulcerated Stomach, has been taking Guy's Tonic for some time, and I am glad to say is now much better.

from the Penny Illustrated Paper, 4 July 1898

I'm not sure exactly who this might be there's no George Gardiner and family in Wing in either the 1891 census or 1901 census. There was a George born in 1871 in Littleworth but in the 1901 census he's single and living in Leighton Buzzard.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

The professional pugilist

In my last post I mentioned that James YOUNG, a visitor in my WILLIAMSON household at the time of the 1911 census, declared himself to be a professional boxer. Knowing virtually nothing about modern-day boxing, let alone the 1911-era sport, I spent some quality time online last night seeing what I could learn.

"Modern Boxing - From A Correspondent" appeared in the London Times on 28 October 1910. Boxing appeared to have gained some respectability in recent years, thanks to the Queensberry rules that provided more structure around bouts and the use of gloves. In amateur circles boxing was recommended as a good way to keep fit. On the topic of the modern professional, I learned that

"there has been a great increase in the number of professional boxers in this country, who earn a somewhat precarious living by giving public exhibitions of their prowess and occasional lessons. There are now many places in London and the provincial cities where these exhibitions are held periodically.....Today attendance at a boxing entertainment is as safe as a visit to a music-hall; indeed the smaller music-halls in the poorer districts of Greater London often provide the impresario of the professional boxer with the arena he requires."

and that the professional boxer was generally characterised as

"an amiable, quiet-mannered young fellow who is decently educated and, unlike his rugged and illiterate predecessor, does not cut loose from the decencies of life during the interval between one period of training and will generally be found that the professional glove-fighter in this country is an honest gladiator and a good citizen, who wishes to satisfy his employers and the people who pay to see him in action."

From The Times I also learned that 1911 was a dramatic year for London boxing. A bout was planned between local boy Bombardier Billy Wells and the African-American Jack Johnson, however this was eventually scrapped after an outcry. The problem seemed to be that this was expected to degenerate into an old-fashioned prize-fight rather than a civilized boxing match, by virtue of the fact that (warning: politically-incorrect cringes ahead) Johnson would likely employ unsportsmanlike American tactics and "the present contest is not one of skill because on the one side is added the instinctive passion of the negro race which is so differently constituted to our own". Oh, and it would also set a bad example in far-flung areas of the Empire like South Africa if their "coloured population" were to see cinematograph footage of the fight. There's more about the US context to these arguments over at Johnson's entry on Wikipedia including the race riots across the US as a result of one of Johnson's 1910 bouts.

The times being what they were, I suspect that Irish boxers were likely not held in quite so high a regard as their English counterparts. My man could have just popped over for a fight or two, so I will need to see if any Irish newspaper archives are available that might mention him. There is an Irish boxer by the name of Jim Young in the boxing encyclopaedia, who had fought the more famous Pat McAllister, The Irish Terror, in 1912 - could this turn out to be my James Young?

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Irish connections

I don't have any Irish ancestors myself, but I do have an Irish visitor living with my ex-Wing WILLIAMSON family in Wembley at the time of the 1911 census. Would anyone like to claim James YOUNG, a single 23-year-old (so born around 1887) professional boxer from Milltown, Dublin, Ireland?

Friday, March 12, 2010

Google Street View

I just made an exciting discovery - the Google Street View cameras have now been round Wing, and on a sunny day, no less!

If you happen to be a current resident, I'm not really cyber-stalking you, honestly - I'm just admiring the buildings.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

All Saints Church in the snow

You may have noticed I get a little over-excited when it snows in England, and start pining for photos of Wing in the snow. I was just browsing Flickr and came across a lovely treat - a couple of photos of All Saints Church, taken right before Christmas last year. Thanks to Ian A Wood for posting these to Flicker.

All Saints Church - so pretty, and at full size I can even make out a CUTLER gravestone (can't see the details beyond that though).

War Memorial

Thursday, March 04, 2010

The will of Thomas ADAMS

Just after Christmas in 1837, Burcott farmer Thomas ADAMS was murdered. His eldest son William was charged with the murder but found not guilty - you can read newspaper reports of the trial along with other contemporary commentary as to the events that transpired and likelihood of the verdict being correct.

Here's the Adams family in question (click to enlarge):

Thomas had drafted his will in 1835, then added a codicil in early 1837. His wife Martha had died in 1828 however he had twelve surviving children, some adult, some minor, to be considered as well as responsibilities for legacies to his mother and brother. The will itself runs over seven PDF pages, has a lot of what-if scenarios in it, and is altered slightly by the codicil, so the abstract that now appears on the Wing One Place Study wills pages is quite abbreviated.

The first point I found interesting is the explicit instructions he left as to his grave - in a common grave in the church yard of Wing as near as possible to the remains of his late father and grandfather, and that "plain head and foot stones" should be raised for himself and his father. You can see Thomas' stone illustrating my page of the newspaper reports, and it stands tucked up against All Saints Church in the north-west corner. It is pretty plain I guess, however from his wording I would almost expect it to be completely unengraved. I didn't specifically take note of any other Adams gravestones in the immediate vicinity but I understand that there are indeed others in adjoining plots. Has anyone else seen explicit instructions like this in the will of their ancestors from Wing?

Thomas had an obligation under his father's will to make annual payments to his mother and brother, and this continues under Thomas' will (the obligation is passed on to son Henry Charles once Henry turns 21 if his grandmother and uncle are still living). After their decease, an annual sum is to be paid to son William - would William still have been entitled to receive this given the court cases? Perhaps it never became an issue - he died 8 years later so may have predeceased his grandmother and uncle. I guess I should look those deaths up....

William's entitlement to this sum was void if he ended up inheriting "estates lately belonging to Stephen Raymond esquire deceased situate in the said county of Bedford" - what connection did Stephen Raymond have to the Adams family? Why was there a question mark over William's possible inheritance from him - was this dependent on some other event that hadn't yet occurred, especially as it is obviously still in doubt at the time Thomas added the codicil to his will? I must look for Stephen Raymond's will!

The upshot of the rest of the will is that younger son Henry Charles Adams, who was 11 at the time the will was drafted, was the primary heir rather then eldest son William Francis. Was this a reflection of the relationship between Thomas and then-fifteen-year-old William, or was the inheritance from Stephen Raymond sufficient to provide for William?

Freehold property in Wing (including four lots named with reference to the Wing inclosure map of 1797 which I don't have) and Stewkley was to be held in trust for Henry Charles, while copyhold property in Wing was to be sold and the proceeds plus any rents received along the way held in trust and used to pay various legacies to Thomas' other children. The two eldest daughters were married by then and aren't mentioned at all (had they died by then?) while the remaining seven daughters (including one married) and William received a total of £70 plus their share of sums paid by the trustees for "heriots, fines and fees in procuring admission to the copyhold part of the said hereditaments". I hadn't encountered the term heriots before but apparently this is a term dating back to feudal times - probably a bit rare by 1835 from the sound of it? - and means a death-duty payable by the lessee (in this case by Thomas) to the lords owning the property. I think the "fines and fees" also sound like they may be payments out, which would mean those charges would all be deducted from the sums payable to the children. Should those named children die, any surviving lawful issue they left behind would take their parent's share.

All the farm assets (eg cattle, grain, implements) and household goods were to be sold after Thomas died, and together with any actual money would fund the funeral, testamentary and gravestone costs. After those costs were covered, £400 was set aside to build "a substantial farm house" for the benefit of Henry Charles. The balance of this pool of funds was then to be divided against the other named children. The reference to building a farm house is interesting - was the current home in disrepair? Not grand enough? The codicil, added in 1837, mentions the £400 but the wording seems a bit odd and I can't work out if it implies the house had since been built or if Thomas decided that this created an imbalance and that William should get the equivalent amount.

This was a particularly long and interesting will, especially in light of subsequent events in this family. It's also been helpful in providing interesting snippets about Burcott House Farm, the property owned by Henry Charles Adams and previously farmed by his father and grandfather by the sound of it. As you can see there's a few more things coming out of this will for me to research!

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

BMD certificates

The charge for ordering a copy of a birth, marriage or death certificate from the GRO will be going up from 6 April from £7 to £9.25. While I don't have a problem with them needing to cover their costs, I will certainly be dipping into the piggy bank and seeing how many I can order before then, as that's quite a difference once translated to to my current NZ-dollar purchasing-power.

Monday, March 01, 2010

March update

This month we have some Wing people popping up in the parish registers of Drayton Parslow (SMITH, WILLISON). I've also finished the extraction of key information from the will of Thomas ADAMS, Wing's most famous murder victim. Expect to see a separate blog entry with my thoughts on this will later on this week.

And now for some behind-the-scenes action.....

The top tray is my genealogy intray. There's about a dozen pieces of paper in there that relate to my personal genealogy, the rest is Wing information still to be incorporated into the Wing One Place Study. And that's just the information I have waiting in hard-copy, I will try not to think about the computer files (like the half-finished pages on farms and farmers of Wing). On the bright side, I have now cleared the top half-dozen pages you can see as that's the Adams will.

Yes, it sags under its own weight. Must try harder in March!

Saturday, February 27, 2010


"There is no end. There isn't, not really, is there? You could go on forever."

I've just finished reading Home: The Story of Everyone Who Ever Lived In Our House by Julie Myerson, which I came across by accident at the library. In 2003 Julie researched the various individuals and families that have lived in her Clapham, London, home since it was built in 1872.

It's a fascinating book, both for the stories uncovered and to see research in action. And there's that thrill of familiarity as Julie discovers sources that we know all too intimately! There are plenty of sentiments expressed by Julie, her family, and the people she encounters that I know you will all recognise, so do keep an eye out for this book.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Antiquarian book - William Dodd

You may recall one of Wing's more memorable vicars, William Dodd, who was hanged for forging documents in the name of Ascott Hall owner the Earl of Chesterfield. While in prison he had time to jot down some of his thoughts on imprisonment and death in prose and verse.

If you've got £48 burning a hole in your pocket and would like a handsome leatherbound gilt-tooled copy of these, I see there's a a very nice looking one on Ebay at the moment.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Spotlight on Ann Susan Hardwick

Ann Susan Hardwick, my great-great-great-grandmother, was the daughter of Joseph Hardwick, a Wing carpenter, and his wife Mary (nee Syrett) and was born in Wing on 14 December 18431. Ann was the fifth of eight children - while the two eldest of her siblings had been baptised at All Saints Church there are no baptisms for Ann or the others, so perhaps Joseph and Mary had become disillusioned with the Church of England and drifted off to one of the non-conformist chapels.

You can see from the above excerpt of Ann's birth certificate that her father Joseph registered the birth. Joseph marked his name with an x here, but had been able to sign his name when he married 10 years earlier. I imagine that William Mortimer, the registrar of births and deaths for Wing, was a somewhat supercilious type who probably just assumed the working men and women in front of him were illiterate and never gave them a chance to try to sign their name!

The 1861 census was taken on 7 April 1861. Ann was 17 by this time, and working as an apprentice dressmaker2. You can see that two of her brothers had followed her father into the carpentry trade. The family was living on Wing's High Street.

1861 was a big year for Ann as it happens, as that is when she fell pregnant with her first child and married the father (well, I'm assuming he was the father!) Andrew Pollard on 30 December in Wing3.

Ann would have just turned 18, although she's given her age as 19. Andrew was of course from Wing although he's given his address as the parish of St Matthias in Bethnal Green, London (ooh, I should see if I can find the banns record there!) - one could speculate that he'd moved down there for a few months to try his luck in a better job market, likely living with his step-brother and family who did live in that parish in the 1861 census, before the realisation of a certain conception necessitated his return to Wing! The witnesses to the marriage were Ann's brother George and his future betrothed Mary Ann Page.

Ann went on to give birth to thirteen children (only one died as an infant), while Andrew trained and worked as a blacksmith. Having young children at home didn’t stop Ann working as well – she is listed as a dressmaker in the census of 18714.

Yes, that's Ann's parents Joseph and Mary Hardwick living right next door.

Andrew's work as a village blacksmith and farrier evidently paid well enough to maintain a large family in a standard high enough to have some of those new-fangled photographs taken! This photo appears in the book Wing As It Was by Richard and Rita Marks, LB Publishing 1985.

This photo was taken around 1890, so Ann was in her late 40s. I like to think that the family are all practising their most formal expressions for this portrait and that Ann wasn't so stern-looking all the time! I think my great-great-grandfather William is the lad in the light-coloured suit next to his father.

Ann was widowed in March 1898. After Andrew's death Ann herself took over running the blacksmith’s shop! She was not the only widow running a business, but it is curious that Andrew left the business to her in his will rather than passing it to one of their three sons already working as blacksmiths.

The above is an except from Kelly's 1903 directory of Buckinghamshire. Mrs Ann Susan Pollard is listed as blacksmith, and her eldest son Joseph Andrew is also listed as a farrier.

As well as maintaining the blacksmith business Ann also had her teenaged children still at home, along with one of her older daughters Ada Sarah Leah. Ada evidently had some mental problems as she is listed as "feeble-minded" in the 1901 census5.

You can see that the Pollards were a few doors along from the Dove Inn (which is at one end of High Street) which helps pinpoint their location. I wonder who Ann employed, beyond the one son still living at home? Previously there had been at least six men working for Andrew Pollard.

The last directory listing for Ann is in 1907. By the 1911 census6 she gives no occupation. The census records for 1911 are the original household schedules completed by the head of the household themselves (rather than a transcription of the household information made by the census enumerator on to enumeration sheets, as in previous years), so the entry below is in Ann's handwriting and signed by her.

The separate address page gives Ann's address as Hand Post - this was the area around the intersection of Leighton Road and Stewkley Road. By 1913 she was living at New Road, Wing, where she died of heart disease at age 69 on 14 March7. This may have been the residence of her son Andrew who was present at the death and the informant for the death certificate.

There is no surviving gravestone for her in Wing.

1. General Register Office, registration district Leighton Buzzard volume 6 page 89, December 1843 quarter
2. 1861 census RG9 piece 1007 folio 27 page 5, household 27
3. Parish registers of All Saints Church Wing Buckinghamshire, page 125 entry 250.
4. 1871 census RG10 piece 1563 folio 10 page 12, household 69
5. 1901 census RG13 piece 1509 folio 25 page 4, household 24
6. 1911 census RG14PN8976 RG78PN475 RD177 SD2 ED2 SN96
7. General Register Office, registration district Leighton Buzzard volume 3b page 389, March 1913 quarter


Have you documented your family history, or written a biographical profile of one of your ancestors? Post a comment and point it out to us (if it's online) or tell us how you approached the task. I've adapted this post from material in my wee booklet about my ancestors, A Century In Wing Buckinghamshire, downloadable at the main Wing One Place Study website. This is structured by couple - it's a little out of date and I do know more now about the post-1900 and pre-1800 periods, but I want to focus on getting similar books put together on my other ancestral lines before returning to extend this book!

This post was inspired by Sara's equivalent on her great-grandfather from Iowa over at Lessons From My Ancestors. I found it really interesting to see the comparable version of documents in the US even though I don't have any ancestors from the US myself.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

52 Weeks to Better Genealogy - Challenge #6 - Online Databases

Amy Coffin of We Tree has teamed up with to run a weekly program of genealogical challenges this year - this week it is the turn of online databases, specifically the online databases that might be available to you as part of your ordinary local library subscription.

If you haven't already investigated this I do recommend it. I'm in Auckland, New Zealand, but have access to a number of very useful UK databases from the comfort of my own home. It's a wonderful thing to see my rates dollars at work supplying me with genealogical goodies via the Auckland City Library!

You can see a list of what's available to me here. Key for me are the newspapers - British Library Newspapers! The Times! The Guardian! I could also check out The Scotsman or Irish Times if I had any ancestors from there - although now I think about it, checking the Irish one for any signs of the Irish boxer I found boarding with one of my London families in the 1911 census might be worth a shot....

I don't have any ancestors that came to NZ (my parents in the early 1970s doesn't really count for the purposes of this exercise) but if you have branches of your tree that came to New Zealand the majority of the NZ databases at the Auckland City Libary website are free for everyone to search. Are there any good finds at your local library website that are free for everyone worldwide to use? Do post a comment and let us know!

PS - if you are doing searches of newspaper databases that throw up a lot of entries, it's a really really good idea to keep track of exactly which search phrases you used and which years you have looked at so far. And a really really really good idea not to lose that file or piece of paper. I know of which I speak - I still can't bring myself to restart my meanderings through the Times database looking for Wing Bucks/Ascott Bucks/Burcott Bucks/Crafton Bucks/Littleworth Bucks.

Monday, February 01, 2010

February update

This month there's a few more WW1 military men from the WO363 "Burnt Documents" series - a PAGE, a TAYLOR and a TUFNELL, and more on LATHWELL and TEARLE.

While I remember - a reminder that if you are viewing these records on Ancestry, the first page that will be displayed is usually the Attestation page. Always click on the left arrow button to check the pages beforehand, as the attestation may not have been the first page that was scanned from that individual's file. I would guess this is because the Attestation contains the key information that Ancestry have indexed so that's the one they have linked to in order to "view record", but you may be missing out on half the file if you take that as the starting point.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Allotments at Waddesdon Manor

I'm back to work now after the holidays so haven't had much time for genealogy (or random web surfing) over the last couple of weeks. However I did come across this - if you've got a young family and fancy an allotment at Waddesdon Manor, five are up for grabs. See here for the details. Wouldn't it be nice to see this at Ascott House as well? Growing your own food is a lovely insight into the life of the generations that came before us.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

On my next trip

I don't have any immediate plans (or means) to visit England again, but I certainly will one day. And now I have somewhere I definitely have to visit on that trip!

Another find in the Ancestry London Metropolitan Archives marriage database was the marriage entry for my 2xgreat-grandparents Edmund Worledge WHITE and Ann POULTER in 1871 - coincidentally the marriage took place on the same day as my parent's wedding, 99 years later. This certificate gave me official confirmation of Ann's surname and father's name and occupation, so I could now locate Ann in the earlier census records. In 1851, the family is at "Reeds" in Farnham Surrey where father James is a farmer of nine acres (there's a second farmer also at Reeds farming a further six acres). I googled this address and came up with.....

Rural Life Centre, Farnham - yes, there's now a rural life museum on the land that my great-great-grandfather farmed! Worth a visit, yes?

Monday, January 11, 2010

Happy 101 Award

A big thank you to Linda on the Flipside and Thomas of Destination: Austin Family for nominating me as one of their 10 blogs for the Happy 101 Award.

This meme has you naming 10 things that make you happy, along with 10 blogs that make you happy! At that rate the geneablogging sphere must already be well and truly covered off, so I'll just do the first bit.

1. I'm very happy that my William WILLSON was a shoemaker. Also that none of the other dozens of William WIL(L)SONS in the 1841 English census that were in Lincolnshire and born in Lincolnshire, or in Middlesex and not born in Middlesex, of the right age bracket, were not shoemakers. So very happy. Finding only one matching candidate was long odds indeed!

2. Ancestry scanning and making available the parish registers held by the London Metropolitan Archives have made me very happy too, given that the only other way to access them is via personal visit which isn't very practical from New Zealand.

3. The entertaining podcasts available via iTunes (and elsewhere of course) - current favourites are Carpool (Robert Llewellyn chatting to interesting people while he gives them a lift in an eco-friendly car) and Rhod Gilbert's Best Bits (Welsh comedian and his flatmate talking about everything and nothing)

4. My amazing partner makes me happy every day (6,134 days and counting)

5. Turning on my computer this morning and having my Vista gadgets tell me it's zero degrees in my grandad's spot in the UK and two degrees in my brother's spot in the UK - an improvement over the -9 (celsius) of a few days ago, and I love that technology brings me closer to them.

6. My netbook - it's been almost a year and we're still in love.

7. The joy of jam making - the strawberry crop in my garden this summer is large enough I can make jam, and it's great fun!

8. I still have one week of summer holiday left. One whole week! (less the day I have to work, granted, but that's because I have to process some payrolls for some of our clients and getting paid will make those people happy).

9. The Ingenious Edgar Jones by Elizabeth Garner - the best of the stash of library books I took out for the holidays. If Victorian Oxford and beautifully descriptive writing sounds like your thing, check it out.

10. A good spot of blog surfing - starting on one blog, checking out something interesting on their blogroll (or blogs the author follows), and meandering your way from blog to blog until you find something awesome, like (warning, adult language) (which is today's Blogger Blog of Note so I guess everyone knows about it now)

I hope that you all have plenty of things making you happy at the moment - 2010 is going to be a great year.

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