Throughout genealogy we find out all about our ancestors, when and where they were born, who they married and when they died, even where they lived. We can find out so much. But what about the people who meant a lot to them that were not family members? What can we ever know about them?
Well we can find some things about them. The first is family stories passed down through the generations. If you know any write them down. If the tale has been repeated throughout the generations then it is important to the family. It could be silly things kids and their friends did or even the exploits of young adults. It could even be heart warming stories of friendships forged on the battle field.
I will always remember fondly my Uncle Bill who had been my Grandpa’s friend since the 1940’s when they moved in next door to each other. After their wives died within weeks of each other they spent every Thursday gallivanting around Derbyshire and further. I loved going to visit Uncle Bill. He always had marshmallow tea cakes and lemonade for me. He would try and teach me chess (no chance, I’m useless) and let me play with his rubix cube, until his son taught me to peel the stickers of to finish it. I really missed him after he died.
Photos are another way to show friendships. If you have a group photo and you know who they are then you are looking at your ancestors friends. If they continue in photos as the people age then you know it was a lifelong friendship.
Are there work colleges their friends? Many people probably spent more time with those they worked with than their family. Also if they worked in a dangerous industry such as mining you needed those you worked with to be friends as they had your back while underground and if things went wrong a friend is more likely to help you if you’re in trouble.
The best way for genealogists to uncover who our ancestor’s friends is through marriage certificates and photos. Who were the witnesses on the certificate? It they weren’t family members than they were close friends, usually the best man and bridesmaid.
If I look at my grandparent’s marriage certificate then witnesses are their fathers. But I have a photograph and I know the names of the best man and bridesmaid. I know the bridesmaid was my Grandma’s half sister and the best man was my Grandpa’s friend.
So the marriage certificate can give a name as to who the witnesses were, but who were they. Well in truth we may never know but we can as genealogists research them.
On my great grandparents marriage certificate from 1916 the witnesses were my grandma’s sister and a man named Abbott Bentham. I’ve spent hours trying to find anything about this man but I can find nothing. There are people with this name but not of an age which would have made them a friend of my great Grandad. So who he was I have no idea and no one to ask. All I do know is he must have been important to Grandad Walter.
Walter’s Grandad John witness to his marriage was a man named N M Theakston. Now John and his bride Sarah got married in Ripon in the 1840’s. Anyone who knows the name Theakston will think of beer, that was my first thought. Ripon is only 18 miles from Masham where the Theakston’s brewery is. So was my 3 times great Grandad friends with a member of the brewing family. If so do I get free beer! Mind you one and I’m hungover instantly!
Now this all sounds great that you can find out from a marriage certificate about friendships but are they really friends. On my 3 times great Grandad John sister’s marriage certificate she and her husband’s witnesses are William Holmes and Christopher Gibson. Now this is ok there just their friend’s right? Well on the previous marriage certificate they are also the witnesses. Now I know the marriage certificates are from a brother and sister (not marring each other) but wouldn’t there future spouses want their own witnesses. So is it possible the church used their own witnesses, are they the church wardens? I guess we’ll never know.
So friends of our family need to be remembered just as much as our ancestors as they may have had a closer relationship with them than their siblings.
Its 804 years ago since the Magna Carta was signed in England. This was the great charter that was supposed to limit the power of the monarch and it did, sort of.
So what’s the background? Well it’s fair to say King John (27 May 1199 to 19 October 1216) was not the most popular King. Think the tales of Robin Hood and the Prince John character. The nobles of the country really didn’t like him and during his reign they tried to get rid of him. Some wanted to replace him with his nephew Arthur the son of his late older brother Geoffrey, Duke of Brittany. John got passed that by having Arthur imprisoned and possibly murdered when he was 16 years old.
Next the barons tried to replace John with his nephew by marriage Prince Louis of France. He was the husband of Blanche of Castile who was the daughter of King Alfonso VIII of Castile and his consort Eleanor of England (John’s sister). Big problem, Louis was the heir to the French throne (he would later become King Louis VIII of France and really the barons didn’t want England to fall into the hands of the French.
In June 1215 the barons entered London with the support of both Prince Louis and the Scottish King Alexander II. The plan was to force John to recognise their rights and implement the Charters of Liberties. This was signed in 1100 by King Henry I. In basic terms this charter meant the King had to recognise all laws regarding the nobles such as the right of succession of sons, the rights of noble women to marry and that the crown could force nobles to stand trial for crimes they committed. It also protected the church in that the crown could not take property from them.
King John basically thought he was above the laws of the land. He was taking what he wanted and doing what he wanted when he wanted. Something had to be done so the barons drew up the Magna Carter (great charter). On the 15th June 1215 the barons met King John at Runnymede on the banks of the river Thames. It was here that the Magna Carta was signed. In a sense it was a peace treaty between the crown and the nobles. Still neither side trusted the other, and several days after it was signed the King was already going against the act and trying to get out of it.
Now the sticking point was clause 61 which said that an elected council of nobles was to be put in place to keep an eye on the king. The king didn’t like this one bit so a matter of days after he signed the charter he started to go against it. He ran to the Pope (metaphorically) for help. He told the Pope he was forced to sign it and planted the idea that if they could do that to a King what would they do to the church? The Pope agreed and said he would excommunicate the barons. This lead to the barons taking up arms and the Barons War ensued. This went on until October 2016 when King John died and rumbled on until 1225.
The new King Henry III was John’s son. He was 9 when he ascended the throne and so the country was ruled by his guardians. Once he was old enough he promised to uphold the Magna Carta.
The Magna Carta still has prominence today. In the UK of the 63 clauses in the original document some are still in place today. These are:
Clause 1: “FIRST, THAT WE HAVE GRANTED TO GOD, and by this present charter have confirmed for us and our heirs in perpetuity, that the English Church shall be free, and shall have its rights undiminished, and its liberties unimpaired. That we wish this so to be observed, appears from the fact that of our own free will, before the outbreak of the present dispute between us and our barons, we granted and confirmed by charter the freedom of the Church's elections - a right reckoned to be of the greatest necessity and importance to it - and caused this to be confirmed by Pope Innocent III. This freedom we shall observe ourselves, and desire to be observed in good faith by our heirs in perpetuity.”
Clause 13: “The city of London shall enjoy all its ancient liberties and free customs, both by land and by water. We also will and grant that all other cities, boroughs, towns, and ports shall enjoy all their liberties and free customs.”
Clause 39: “No free man shall be seized or imprisoned, or stripped of his rights or possessions, or outlawed or exiled, or deprived of his standing in any way, nor will we proceed with force against him, or send others to do so, except by the lawful judgment of his equals or by the law of the land.”
Clause 40: “To no one will we sell, to no one deny or delay right or justice.”
All taken from: https://www.salisburycathedral.org.uk/magna-carta-what-magna-carta/key-clauses-magna-carta
In the USA the Magna Carta played a large part in the drawing up of the Constitution.
So It may have happened 804 years ago but it is still relevant today, and if you want to see one of the 4 original documents then you can see them at the British Library (2 copies), Salisbury Cathedral or Lincoln Castle. I’ve seen it and whoever wrote it down had the smallest writing I’ve ever seen.
Yesterday marked the 75th anniversary of the D Day landings on the Normandy coast during WW2 named Operation Overlord. I’m sure you’ve read and seen loads about this so I thought I’d look at it from a different view point. I’ve been lucky enough to visit Normandy several times and visit the D Day beaches and location important to the operation. So I thought I’d talk about that.
The last time I went to Normandy was 10 years ago just after the 65th Anniversary. We stayed somewhere near Bayeux. The first time I went was in the early 1990’s when I wasn’t even a teenager yet.
One of my favourite places is Arromanches – Sur – Basin or Arromanches as it’s usually called. It’s on the coast where the landing beach code named Gold is. It’s where one of the Mulberry harbours was built by the British forces. Some of the harbour still exists in the sea and the beach. I have fond memories of my visit in the early 90’s eating ice cream sitting on the sea wall with my new cuddly wolf (called Bro) I’d just got looking at the remains of the harbour. Despite everything that had happened there it was just a great day. The last time I went the anniversary flags were still up but it still felt like a happy seaside town.
I also liked the village of Sainte – Mere – Eglise. It was really pretty with pots full of flowers surrounding the church. It was here that an American 505th parachute regiment landed. Except it went a bit wrong for John Steele. He kind of got stuck on the church steeple and was dangling from it. He played dead for hours but the Germans eventually captured him, he escaped and got back to his regiment and survived the war. If you go there you can see a dummy hanging from a parachute from the church.
Another pretty village is that of Ranville. There is a large commonwealth cemetery there. The cemetery is tended by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, as are all Commonwealth war cemeteries, with each grave having its own plants. This village lead to much hilarity in our family. Now my French is non existent, I was scared of one of the French teacher at school so I did German. My map reading skills are brilliant (well I think so). I saw a sign which I thought said the cemetery and followed it. It was a bit of a surprise when were arrived at the cement works just outside the town. Cimenterie (cement works), cimetière for cemetery, you can see where I went wrong. Mind you it gets worse as not far from Ranvillie is the town of Ouistreham. This is where the ferry between Caen and Portsmouth comes in. We were looking for a car park and I found one, it was the ferry queue!
I also like the town of Bayeux. We went to see the tapestry, which was alright I suppose, or right I found it disappointing and small (I'm bias though as my ancestor Lady Elizabeth Wardle and her ladies made a replica which is in Reading Museum). I did like the Commonwealth cemetery though. It has a great feature of the memorial wall on one side and the graves on the other with a D road going straight through the middle (D roads are like B roads in the UK). There are also German graves here as well. There is a museum next to the cemetery which has 2 tanks outside. 10 years ago there was a bird using the tank’s gun barrel as a nest. I found that so wonderful. Something that caused death being used to raise life.
Now one thing my visits to Normandy showed me is the differences between the cemeteries. Commonwealth ones are peaceful with plants by each grave. The German ones were mostly being looked after the people of the place they were in. The American sites very regimented with no flowers by the graves but just rows and rows of straight lines. In all of them though it was very evident that the fallen were well looked after and honoured. The American cemeteries had active soldiers on duty there to honour there fallen comrades and assist the public. It was at the site of Ponte du Hoc where the Rangers scaled the 100 foot high cliffs under heavy fire that I also had a moment. There was a tour group in with Rangers assisting them. There was one Ranger, he was really tall and looked fantastic in his uniform and knee length brown boots. Me being me asked him if I could have them to which he smiled at me and said “sorry mam”.
So despite what happened on that coast of France it’s still a lovely place which we can visit thanks to the effort and sacrifice of the soldiers who fought there on D Day 75 years ago.
So as we move into June we start to think about sunny days, warm weather, the sound of leather on willow and lazy days. It’s Britain so let’s amend that to cloudy days, mild weather and the sound of rain on covers or sky’s so blue it’s unbelievable and it’s too hot to move. All this means its holiday season. Jetting off to far of places or staying in the UK, which ever you do it will be really different from the holidays of our ancestors.
Let’s start off with the obvious. May of our ancestors will never have had a holiday in their lives. They probably only had Sundays as a day of rest, but probably worked at home on this day.
So off to the seaside then. The main places to develop in the Victorian era as holiday places were Blackpool, Scarborough, Ramsgate and Brighton. Llandudno and Rhyl were the places to go in Wales.
Now we don our short and t shirts for a beach outing but think of our ancestor. They wore their everyday clothes or even their Sunday best. Men in 3 piece suits and women in so many layers they could virtually stand up without needing their legs. Can you imagine how hot they were?
They may have worn a straw bonnet instead of the normal hat but that would have been the only nod to the beach.
So they needed to cool down. What better way than an ice cream. No cone and lovely flavours for our ancestors though. You got a penny lick. Now this was a solid glass which had a small indentation on the top which would hold a small amount of ice cream. You paid your penny, ate your ice cream and gave the glass back. If you were really lucky the glass may have been rinsed before you got it, but not always. Think of it like hundreds of people sharing a spoon, gross.
Perhaps a donkey ride across the beach? These rides began in the Victorian era and continue to this day at Blackpool amongst others. The wind in their hair as the donkey trotted (well slowly walked) along the sand.
The best way to cool off was probably a dip in the sea. What better way. Not for me, seaweed, crabs, fish no thank you. Apparently you’re not supposed to squeal and run out of the sea claiming something touched your foot! Why? But not just a normal dip in the sea for our ancestors there was etiquette to consider. You had to be correctly dressed.
Ladies wore full length dresses to begin with made from a non transparent fabric and weighted at the hem so it wouldn’t float up and show an ankle, the horror! Later into the Victorian era women began to wear a pair of bloomers with a short dress over the top. Modesty at all times. Men began by wearing what looked like woollen long johns from ankle to wrist. Over time these became shorter and looked more like a modern ladies racing swimsuit. I’ve got a photo somewhere of my Grandpa in a thigh length bathing suit that when it got wet stretched out of all shape.
But I hear you cry how did they change? Well the answer was one of two ways. There was the bathing machine. This was effectively a garden shed on wheels. You went inside and got changed and then stepped out in you bathing attire. Some were wheeled from the promenade to the sea so you stepped out into the sea and then when you were done you were returned to dry land. It was usually only the rich who were taken into the sea. You could also use a sort of beach tent thing. We had one. It was like a huge towel with a hole in the top for your head. You simply got changed underneath it. Surfers use them these days to get out of wet suits. Another way ladies got around the need for a changing room was to use the bell dress type thing.
I’ll be honest it looks more like a drowning aid than a swimming dress.
So this summer when you’re lying on the beach in your chosen attire think of your Victorian ancestors and be grateful no to have to wear a suit or crinoline.
On the 24th May 1819 a baby girl was born who would live through one of the most developing periods in our country’s history. That little girl was Alexandrina Victoria the daughter of the Duke of Kent and the granddaughter of King George III. She was of course Queen Victoria.
It wasn’t such a great period of change for the Queen but also to a greater extent for our ancestor.
Can you imagine how life changed for our ancestors? In 1837 most of our ancestors will have lead very simple lives where their sole priority would have been the survival of them and their family. They literally worked to live. By the end of the Victorian era this would have started to change.
So what did change? I suppose what didn’t.
The Victorian era saw the introduction of the bicycle, trains became much more common and planes were not too far off. Then there was the steam ship and faster journey times.
The first post boxes arrived on the streets of Britain in 1859. They were green in colour and spread through the land. This meant you could post your letters easily and without anyone else knowing who you’re writing to. This was a great invention as before you would have had to go into the post office and hand over your letter. The first stamp appeared in 1840 with the penny black.
Easter eggs appeared in 1873 made by Fry’s chocolate and look how well they took off. Also jelly babies. They started in Lancashire in the 1860’s but then they were made in Sheffield by Bassets. They still exist today. Do you bite of the head or the feet first?
Close to my families heart comes and invention from 1846, the sewing machine. I have a lot of dressmakers and seamstresses in my ancestry. How much did life change for them. No longer did they have to sew garments by hand. The sewing machine would mean hems could be sewn in record time. This would have meant they could make garments faster and thus make more so more income. This did mean that anyone could buy a sewing machine after Signer perfected the design but you had to have the skill to use it.
The Bessemer converter. A big invention for my home town of Sheffield. This lead to the development of strong light steel. It also lead to people flocking to the city to live for the jobs the steel works provided. A big change if you’ve lived in the countryside all your life.
Not exactly but electric lighting was introduced and lightbulbs. Admittedly not many of our ancestors will have used them due to the cost, but it gave hope that one day they wouldn’t have to use candles and smelly oil lamps anymore. Then with the development of hydroelectric it became even cheaper to produce.
The Victorian ear saw the invention of the phonograph and the gramophone. So things could be recorded on the phonograph and played back on the gramophone. No more musically evenings round the piano forte! Also by the end of the era the radio was newly developed.
Now our ancestors, if they could afford it, could take to family and friends throughout the land.
So as the period developed so too did what our ancestors had access to. Some would have been dreams they could only wish for whereas others other would have revolutionised their lives. So know if someone asks what the Victorian era did for our ancestors you have some facts to offer them.
Last week I hosted the monarch awards based around the statistics of the monarch of England/Great Britain. This week the focus turns to their royal consorts.
Consorts whose children didn’t become monarch:
Well it might surprise you that in total 17 (or 18) consorts did not have children who became monarch of these fair lands. The first could have been Queen Matilda of Scotland the wife of Henry I. Her daughter of the Empress Maude or Lady of the English. So if you believe she was queen then it was Matilda of Scotland. If you don’t believe this then the first monarch to not have a child become monarch was Queen Matilda of Boulogne the wife of King Stephen. They did have a son William, but to keep the peace in England Stephen made Maude’s son Henry his heir. The last consort not to have children become monarch was Queen Adelaide the consort of William IV. They had 4 children all of which died when they were young.
Consorts who had more than on monarch/consort as children:
In this category the winner is Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine the wife of King Henry II. The couple had 8 children together and of these 3 were monarchs and 2 were consorts. There was Henry the Young King who reigned alongside his father, Richard I and John. Her daughter Eleanor was consort of King Alfonso VIII of Castile and Joan was consort of King William II of Sicily.
Consorts who had no children:
In this category there were 7 consorts. Admittedly 3 were the wives of Henry VIII, Anne of Cleves, Katherine Howard and Katherine Parr. The others were Berengaria of Navarre the wife of Richard I, Anne of Bohemia the wife of Richard II, Lord Guildford Dudley the wife of Queen Jane and Catherine of Braganza the wife of Charles II.
Consorts to have the most children:
Well the winner here is Prince George of Denmark the consort of Queen Anne who had 17 children no of which survived childhood. The female consort who had the most children was Eleanor of Castile with 16 by her husband Edward I. Coming in a close second was Charlotte of Mecklenberg, the consort of George III who had 15 children.
Queen Charlotte the consort of King George III holds the record for the longest tenure of consort, she held the post for 57 years and 65 days.
The shortest reign was Lord Guildford Dudley at just 9 days or if you doubt the credibility of Queen Jane then it was Anne of Cleves, 4th wife of Henry VIII at 186 days.
Age at accession:
The oldest consort to take up the post was Princess Alexandria, the wife of King Edward VII at 56 years and 53 days.
The youngest woman to hold the position was the wife of Richard II, Isabella of Valois. She was just 6 years, 11 months and 24 days. So I suppose she was the youngest girl to hold the post. Her new husband was 29 and it is believed the marriage was never consummated.
Number of Marriages:
Many consorts were either married before or after the monarch. The record does go to Katherine Parr who was married 4 times with King Henry VIII being her third husband. Her first 3 husband died and she finally married Thomas Seymour the uncle of her step son King Edward VI. She died in childbirth aged 36.
Some other facts:
Margaret of France the consort of Henry the Young King was a consort in 2 countries. After the death of Henry she went on to marry Bela III of Hungary.
The consort of King Richard II and Henry V were sisters. They were Isabella of Valois and Catherine of Valois. They were the daughters of King Charles VI of France. After their monarch husbands died Isabella married Charles Duke of Orleans and died in childbirth aged 19. Catherine went on to marry Owen Tudor and have around 6 children including Edmund Tudor the father of King Henry VII.
England/Great Britain has had 6 male consorts. The first was Geoffrey of Anjou in 1141 if you believe Maude was Queen, if not if was Lord Guildford Dudley the husband of Queen Jane in 1553 or if not it was Phillip of Spain who was known as Phillip of England and was monarch by right of his wife from 1554 to 1558. The other are Prince George of Denmark the consort of Queen Anne, Prince Albert the consort of Queen Victoria and our current consort Prince Philip the husband of Queen Elizabeth II.
15 of the consorts of England/Great Britain were the children of European monarchs.
Now as in the previous blog on the monarchy awards (http://www.familyhistoryresearchengland.co.uk/blog/monarchy-awards ) I will answer the questions which were asked on pointless:
The names of the British monarchs consorts since 1707 are:
George, Caroline, Charlotte, Adelaide, Albert, Alexandria, Mary, Elizabeth and Philip.
The decade in which a monarch died from 1000 to 2000 are:
1050’s, 1060’s, 1070’s, 1080’s, 1110’s, 1150’s, 1190’s, 1200’s, 1230’s, 1240’s, 1290’s, 1310’s, 1350’s, 1360’s, 1390’s, 1410’s, 1430’s, 1480’s, 1490’s, 1500’s, 1530’s (3 this decade all Henry VIII wives), 1540’s, 1550’s, 1590’s, 1610’s, 1660’s, 1700’s, 1720’s, 1730’s, 1810’s, 1820’s, 1840’s, 1860’s, 1920’s, 1950’s, 2000’s.
The consorts whose children (if they had any some of these listed didn’t) were never Monarch since 1154 are:
Berengaria of Navarre wife of Richard I. Margaret of France wife of Edward I. Philippa of Hainualt wife of Edward III. Richard II 2 wives Anne of Bohemia and Isabella of Valois. Joan of Navarre wife of Henry IV. Margaret of Anjou wife of Henry VI. Anne Neville wife of Richard III. Anne of Cleves, Katherine Howard and Katherine Parr the wives of Henry VIII. Guildford Dudley the husband of Queen Jane. Phillip of Spain the husband of Mary I. Catherine of Braganza the wife of Charles II. Mary of Modena the wife of James VII (II). Prince George of Denmark the husband of Queen Anne. Caroline of Brunswick the wife of George II. Caroline of Brandenburg the wife of George IV and finally Adelaide Saxe-Meiningen the wife of William IV.
Scottish Monarchs and Consorts coming soon.
I was watching a repeat of Pointless Celebrities the other week and in the final the actor’s Neil Dudgeon and Annette Badland had questions in the final relating to the monarchy. The 3 questions were the names of the British monarchs since 1707, the decade in which a monarch died from 1000 to 2000 and the monarchs who were never succeeded by their offspring since 1154. Well I happy to say I got 3 pointless answers and the celebrities won the jackpot. It also got me thinking again about the statistics of the English/British monarch. So let me share them with you.
Monarch who were not succeeded by their children:
There have been 17 monarchs since 1066 that were not succeeded by their children. The first was the son of King William the Conqueror, King William II. He died under mysterious circumstances when he was shot by an arrow while hunting in the New Forest in 1100. He was unmarried and thus succeeded by his brother King Henry I. The most recent monarch to be succeeded by someone other than a child was King Edward VIII in 1936 when he abdicated and was succeeded by his brother King George VI.
Monarchs succeeded by more than one child:
It surprised me when I got looking that 7 monarchs have had more than one child become monarch. The first was King William the Conqueror. He was succeeded by 2 of his sons, William II and Henry I. Not surprisingly Henry VIII wins with 3 of his children becoming monarchs, Edward VI, Mary I and Elizabeth I. The most recent monarch to have more than one child become king was King George V with Edward VIII and George VI.
Monarchs with no children:
Again this came as something of a surprise. 11 monarchs since 1066 have not had any issues. Of these 5 were married but just had no children for various reasons. Charles II was married but had no children with his wife. She suffered several miscarriages. He did have 12 acknowledged illegitimate children though. When you think about it 3 of the 11 of the monarch who didn’t have children were the children of Henry VIII.
Monarchs with most children:
The record is held by James VII (II) who had 20 children by his 2 wives. Coming a close second was Edward I who had 19 children by his 2 wives. Edward’s first wife was Eleanor of Castile and she gave birth to 16 children. George III and his wife Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz came in second place with her giving birth to 15 children.
Our current Queen Elizabeth II holds the record for the longest reigning monarch. Before her it was Queen Victoria at 63 years and 216 days and King George III at 59 years and 97 days.
The shortest reign was Queen Jane at just 9 days. For those who don’t believe Jane was Queen (I do) then it was King Edward V at 78 days. Neither monarch was ever crowned. The shortest reign of a crowned monarch was King Edward VII at 326 days.
Age at Accession:
The oldest person to become monarch was William VI. When he became King in 1830 he was 64 years old. The youngest to become monarch was King Henry VI who was just 8 years old.
Number of marriages:
Well of the winner in this category has to be Henry VIII at 6 marriages. That man either loved wedding cake or just wanted to collect lots of Mother’s in laws. He needed to take up knitting or something. Several other monarchs were married more than once but 2 is the most number of marriages besides Henry. It’s no wonder his 3 kids never got married. Nor did 3 other monarch.
So to fully answer the pointless questions:
The names of the British monarchs since 1707 are: Anne, George, William, Victoria, Edward and Elizabeth.
The decade in which a monarch died from 1000 to 2000 are: 1010’s, 1030’s, 1040’s, 1060’s, 1080’s, 1100’s, 1130’s, 1150’s, 1160’s, 1180’s, 1190’s, 1210’s, 1270’s, 1300’s, 1320’s, 1370’s, 1400’s, 1410’s, 1420’s, 1470’s, 1480’s (3 this decade), 1510’s, 1540’s, 1550’s (3 this decade), 1600’s, 1620’s, 1640’s, 1680’s, 1690’s, 1700’s, 1710’s, 1720’s, 1760’s, 1820’s, 1830’s, 1900’s, 1910’s, 1930’s, 1950’s, 1970’s.
The monarchs who were never succeeded by their offspring since 1154 are:
Edward III (grandson), Richard II (cousin), Henry VI (usurped), Edward V (uncle), Richard III (usurped), Edward VI (cousin and half-sister), Mary I (half-sister), Elizabeth I (cousin), Charles II (brother), Anne (cousin), George II (grandson), George VI (brother), William IV (niece), Edward VIII (brother).
On the 1st May 1707 Great Britain was born. Up until this point England (and Wales) and Scotland were separate entities sort of. England (and Wales) had a parliament in London and Scotland’s was in Edinburgh. We each had a separate monarch, sort of. It was the same person from 1603 they just had 2 crowns.
From the act of union onwards that all changed. No more separate coronations for monarchs, although Charles II was the last to really have separate coronations. Queen Anne became the first monarch of Great Britain. Also no more separate parliament. Everything was now done from London as that was where the monarch lived.
The most changes were probably seen in the border areas of England and Scotland. A lot of grey areas arose. For example the town of Berwick Upon Tweed has changed between England and Scotland loads of time. This meant that before the union they could swap sides to choose which parliament was best for them. After the union that would have changed.
The union was not popular as the Scottish wanted to remain independent but many felt the extra money that Scotland could get from England would be hugely beneficial to the country.
There had been attempts made before this. The Monarchies of England (and Wales) and Scotland had been marrying off their children to one another in order to try and exert some influence over their fellow monarchs as their grandchildren may have become monarch. In 1221 King John of England had married his daughter Joan to King Alexander II of Scotland. In this case no children were born so it didn’t work. John’s son King Henry III of England married his daughter Margaret to King Alexander III of Scotland but none of the couple’s son’s became King. Several other royal marriages between Scotland and England occurred but since 1066 the first union between the 2 royal families to produce a monarch who had an English monarch and a Scottish monarch as grandfathers was King James V of Scotland. He was the son of King James IV of Scotland and Princess Margaret Tudor, the daughter of King Henry VII of England. This was the connection that allowed James VI to take the English throne in 1603.
So what did this mean for our ancestors? Well in reality nothing. Nothing changed other than they became British rather than English, Scottish or Welsh. Although most probably still used them and we still do today.
Our Scottish ancestors did cling firmly to their Scottishness. They continued to hold on to their clan heritage and their pride in their tartans and customs. They even revolted during the Glorious Revelation in an attempt to keep King James VII (or II) on the throne of both England and Scotland. He was a Catholic and Protestants wanted him gone and replaced with his daughter Mary and her husband William of Orange. After James was ousted and William III and Mary II took the throne jointly James VII grandson Charles Edward Stuart took up arms along with the Scottish Jacobite’s to put his father James Stuart,or himself on the throne. It failed.
The English hung on to their traditions as well.
So was there any impact on the Act of Union for us genealogists. Well not really when it happened. Birth, marriages and deaths were still only registered in the Church of either Scotland or England (and Wales). It wasn’t until 1837 in England and Wales and 1855 in Scotland that events had to be registered with the state.
So the Act of Union had no impact on our genealogy research or probably our ancestors but it was an important date in the history of our great country.
I was reading an article the other day about Joanna of Castile the sister of our Queen consort Catherine of Aragon. In the article was a picture of her husband Philip the Handsome who reigned as King Philip I of Castile and was also the Duke of Burgandy. Now the photo in my opinion didn’t do the poor man justice.
This portrait was produced around 1500 when Philip was Duke of Burgundy and around 22 years old.
This picture got me thinking how accurate were these portrait of their sitters?
Well in truth we will never know. But is there a reason for the way the pictures look.
Now I know nothing about art, I was useless at it at school and I only exceled at stickmen. But is a picture’s quality just down to the artist or does the tools they used have an influence on how good the picture was.
Let me explain. In 1500 the quality of the canvas the artist used would not be the same as more modern artists would use. In fact the picture of Philip was painted on an oak board. Now surely this influenced how the paint flowed on the wood. There are natural cracks and marks on the wood. Would this mean the paint went to an extent where it wanted and so the picture was less accurate?
The same is true of the quality of the paint. Oil based paints these days will be much better than the oil paints of 1500. With the development of manufacturing processes paints will be more consistent. Back in 1500 the paints would have been of a much lesser quality so did this mean that they didn’t flow as well and thus made a lesser quality painting.
So did the development of the materials account for the increased quality of artwork or did the talent of the artist increase?
This picture of King Henry VIII was painted by Hans Holbein the Younger around 1540, just 40 years after the picture of Philip the Handsome. The quality of the picture thought is so much better and it is well documented that this was a true likeness of the King. This is an oil painting but was done on a canvas rather than wood.
So comparing the 2 picture you could say that the artist of Philips picture was just not as good as Hans Holbein, but the since they are not on the same canvas then that could make a difference. The only true way to compare whether wood or canvas was best would have been for an artist to paint the same portrait on both wood and canvas.
Also the cost of the painting would probably have an impact on the quality. Henry VIII wasn’t known for scrimping on his spending so the Holbein painting probably cost a great deal. Maybe Philip used a lesser known artist would didn’t charge as much and so you could speculate that he used lesser quality paints and this resulted in the above portrait.
If you think about it the same is true for with the photographs of our ancestors. Early photos are of very stern looking people with absolutely no character to them. This was due to the quality of the camera and the long exposure needed. My camera can take a photo in 1/4000 of a second so I can catch the image instantly and so smiles and movement can be captured.
So was Philip the Handsome portrait a true likeness of him or not, we may never know but we can say that the quality of the artists material may have had an impact on the final picture. Whether it was a true likeness or not his wife Queen Joanna of Castile loved him dearly.
This week I bring you some Easter genealogy fun.
I officially have brain freeze and cannot thing what to blog about so I have made for your pleasure a genealogy based word search. So grab a cuppa and a biscuit and settle down and play away.
Hello and thank you for taking the time to read my Family History Ramblings on genealogy and history in general. I hope you find it informative and hopefully funny!