The development of the internal combustion engine would have had a great impact on our ancestors. It would have changed every aspect of their lives but how. It’s had an impact on my life. I used to love working on old cars with my family. We had a Morris Traveller with both wet and dry rot, an Austin A40 that a hedgehog lived in and we rebuilt a mini from a virtual right of.
Well let’s start with the history of vehicles. The first form of transport was the horse and they have been domesticated for over 6000 years. They were teamed up with carts in prehistoric times and so the horse and cart was invented. But when was what we would call a motor vehicle developed.
Well Leonard Da Vinic was known to have drawn what we would recognise as a car in the late 15th/ early 16th century. So that’s in the reign of King Henry VII. The first motorised carriage as they were called was developed in France in 1769 by Nicolas – Joseph Cugnot. This was powered by steam and he developed it to move heavy military equipment.
This eventually developed into the steam car which usually only carried 2 people.
Next came the petrol powered car developed in the 1880’s in Germany by Karl Benz. These were the preserve of the wealth as they were very expansive so if your ancestors had one then they were doing really well for themselves. The first mass produced car was the Model T Ford developed by Henry Ford in the USA. He opened his first mass production line in 1913.
So how much did a car cost to buy?
Well in 1913 in the USA a Model T cost about $850 so about £16,093 today.
In 1931 a Morris Minor would have cost £100.
In the 1950’s a Ford Anglia cost £310.
In 1959 a new Mini cost £497
In the 1960’s a Lotus Cortina was £1,100 and a Hilman Imp was £508.
In the 1970’s an E-Type Jaguar was £3,139 and a Ford Capri was £4035.
In the 1980’s the Ford Escort RS was £6,700 and the Rover 800 was £19,944.
All the above prices are from https://www.motoringresearch.com/car-news/cost-car-year-born/ . So the better off your ancestor was the better the car they could afford.
This is believed to be the first member of my family to be pictured with a car which from the number plate can be dated around the 1930’s.
So how did the car change our ancestor’s lives? Well if you think about it before the development of them the only way to move around was horse and cart and if you didn’t have access to one it was on foot. You could use the train, but it had to pass near where you lived and it may not have gone where you wanted to. The car meant you could go directly from A to B.
Now obviously your ancestor would have had to have been able to afford to buy a car, and from the prices above they would have had to have been well paid to be able to afford them. But if they could buy one just think how much freedom they would have had. You could have gone literally anywhere. Places you couldn’t go before as although they were local they were too far to walk to could now be explored. Also new holiday destinations. No more going on the Train to Scarborough or Blackpool with everyone else as that’s where the train or coach went. No now you could go to the towns and villages further afield where not many people went, so the holiday was more exclusive.
The car also meant that as families moved further apart from each other they could visit more easily. My Grandparents moved north away from their families but could all pile into the car to drive south to visit them.
The vehicle also meant new experiences. Foods from further away could be enjoyed more easily as they could be moved around the country by train and vehicle. So if you wanted a Devon delicacy but lived in North Yorkshire you had more chance of being able to buy it locally.
So many people think the car is bad but just think how much of an impact they had on our ancestors lives. They opened up new avenues for them. But please remember those like my Great, Great Grandad William who was a farrier and saddle maker. It spelled an end to their lively hood as more cars, less horse shoes. Maybe they just branched out into tyres instead. In the case of William he died before cars took over.
I thought I’d look at the world of heraldry this week and probably another week as well. This is something many genealogists and historians will have come across, but what does it actually mean.
Well to consider the subject fully would be a huge undertaking so I thought I’d look at the basics.
First of all what is heraldry? Well in basic terms it is the images on a shield or a coat of arms used to identify an individual.
Anyone can apply to the college of arms to have their heraldry registered and it can in include symbols which are important to you.
Right I’ll start with shield.
These are the main backgrounds or ordinaries that are found on shields (please excuse my bad drawing skills and spelling it should read saltire not saltaire, that’s a place in Bradford).
These can be coloured with the colours of heraldry which are gold/yellow for generosity, silver/white for peace, black for grief, blue for truth and loyalty, green for hope and loyalty of the heart and red indicates a warrior.
Now you can just leave your shield at that, but usually symbols are placed on top of the ordinaries.
But what do the ordinaries mean. Well it seems most of them have a meaning.
The chief denotes that the bearer has authority and domination over others.
The saltire indicates that the holder of the shield has resolve.
The cross derives from the crusades and may be used to show the bearers Christian faith.
The fess shows that the holder is a man of honour.
The pale shows the bearer has military strength.
The chevron denoted the holder’s faithfulness to the crown.
The bend denoted defence and protection and the bend sinister may have denoted the holder held defence and protection in high esteem but was illegitimate. Why was that important?
The pall denoted a link to the clergy.
The others of pile, checky and quarter were more of a decoration thing.
Probably on of the most famous shields belonged to King Richard the Lionheart of England. His shield was believed to be a white background with a red cross i.e. the St Georges cross with the 3 lions (except there not lions there leopards as that’s what they were called when they were first used by Richard 1) denoting Richards rule over England, Normandy and Aquitaine.
Some of the more common symbols are lions/leopards for courage, dragons for valour and protection, horses for readiness to support King and country, the unicorn for courage virtue and strength and bears for strength. Patterns are also used such as the fleur-de-lis which indicates the English Kings claim to throne of France.
If you consider the Queen’s Royal Standard it shows the harp of Ireland, the rampant (standing up growling) lion of Scotland and the 3 lions of England. So basically you can design your own branding so when you were on the battlefield you could be recognised which if you think about it is silly as people know who you are, so they could make a beeline for you on the battlefield if they didn’t like you.
So who could have a shield like this well it was only usually the Monarch, the nobility and the knights. But their servants would wear the design on their clothes so they could be recognised as belonging to their master. It would also be worn as a badge of honour so they could say look at me I work for ……. And you don’t.
So although shield design these days is seen as mainly a medieval thing it was in fact the branding of its day. The shield was the nobel or knights logo.
I’ll look at heraldry again soon and focus on the coats of arms of the nobility and also towns and cities.
I thought I would consider how we record our family history research this week.
When I first started I printed everything out and put it into folders on the bookcase. I organised it alphabetically and by maternal and paternal lines. I then drew a family tree as I went along and put this in the front of the folder. I also built my family tree using Ancestry. I soon decided this method wasn’t working for me though and rethought.
So the next step was to get some family tree software and start building my own tree on the PC. I also started downloading the documents I found along the way and putting them into folders on my PC. This meant I had access to all my documents even when I was offline.
I was still recording my findings in notebooks and drawing trees as I went along and was producing loads of papers and documents in the folders. So I decided that the print outs would have to stop due to the large amounts of papers I had knocking around. This lead me to using research sheets where I would record my findings as I went along and thus just have several sheets of paper per ancestor. But still it wasn’t working for me as I couldn’t find a sheet laid out how I wanted so I decided to make my own research sheet.
On this sheet I could record all the information I wanted about each ancestor and I find this works for me. I designed it using Excel and can print out one sheet per person researching and fill in everything about them as a research aid. I can also fill it in on excel so I have a document saved on the PC.
I also decided to stop hand drawing family trees. I started by printing off pedigree charts (small 3 generation family trees) and filling those in but these were never big enough. So I found a localish retailer called My History (https://www.my-history.co.uk/index.html) and purchased charts of them. I have a 10 generation chart which one day I will get round to filling in and framing. But I still wanted to print out as I went along. By using family history software (I use Family Historian) you can get the software to build the tree for you and print it out or send it off to specialist printers who will do it for you and you don’t have to worry about bad handwriting!
But don’t despair. If you don’t want to purchase some software there is another way using Excel once again.
This is a family tree I produced using Excel. The beauty of this is that you can add line and columns until you get it write, so no more discarded sheets of paper ending up in the recycling.
This is the page showing how the above tree looks on the Excel sheet.
This whole process took me about 5 minutes to produce and is easy to do.
Storing files on the PC is also a factor that can prove difficult. When you’ve got many files in a folder it can become confusing as to which order the ancestor are in. So off onto the Internet I went and I found some free software which allows you to assign colours to your folders. So now I assign a different colour per ancestor and each folder has the same colour per generation. So generation 1 is red, 2 is green, 3 is blue, 4 is grey and so on.
This means at a glance I can find the generation I’m looking for and thus saves me time.
So there are loads of free and cheap ways to store your ancestors information, be it on paper in files on the bookcase or on your PC (please remember to save your files on a memory stick or external hard drive as well or even on the cloud so you never lose all your hard work) or if you decide to purchase some software (there is loads out there to choose from) then do it in a way that works for you and you can find what you’re looking for at a glance and makes it easy for you and your family and decedents to enjoy.
I was reading an article the other day which talked about how eye colour can determine where about in the world your ancestors came to and I it got me thinking.
Well in full the article was discussing how everyone who has blue eyes is descended from one person who was born near the Black Sea in Europe during the Neolithic era and how the decedents of the original blue eyed person moved north throughout Europe to what we know as Scandinavia now and thus became the Vikings. This is why there is a belief that everyone with blue eyes is of Viking decent.
Well although this is possibly true I want to raise a point. People with blue eyes can have children with other coloured eyes so those of us who don’t have blue eyes can still be descended from the original blue eyed person. I have hazel eyes from my Dad’s side but my Mum’s side is predominantly blue eyed so although I’m not blue eyed I can still claim a Viking heritage to our mutual black sea ancestor.
So how’s this work?
So as you can see the colour of your parent’s eyes doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed to get the same colour. So if you take the second row as hazel and blue I had a 50/50 chance of getting blue or hazel eyes. So even if 2 people with brown eyes have a child it may have blue eyes after their eye colour has established (most children in the west are born with blue eyes but they may change colour by the time they are 4 years old). So the statement that began this entire thinking process is correct but flawed.
From here I got on to thinking what else we have inherited form our ancestors. Well I would like to start by thanking my Mum’s side of the family for my hair. I have silly hair that thinks it’s funny to be curly. Now I don’t mind that, I like it when it’s nice curly but it likes to be messy curly once it’s been brushed so I look like I’ve been pulled through a hedge backwards.
Hair colour can also be inherited. My grandpa had black hair which he inherited from his father but his mother had ginger hair. This ginger can be seen in her descendants. This hair colour inheritance doesn’t always follow though especially with my paternal Grandma as she had blue hair amongst others when I was little!
Inherited traits don’t have to be visible though, they can be in the form off illnesses. There is much evidence of disease such as cancer can be more prevalent in some families and rare in others. Also conditions such as sickle cell anaemia are hereditary. There is much evidence to suggest conditions such as depression runs in families can be passed from generation to generation.
So you do inherit part of who you are from your ancestors be it health or eye colour but in the end you are uniquely you and these days if you don’t like what you inherit you can change it. Hair dye, hair straighter/curlers and coloured contact lens are all available so you can make yourself look how you want. If everyone in your family has brown hair and you want blue go for it, just make sure you have photos of you with your natural hair colour so future generations don’t think you descended from a rare hair coloured species.
A couple of weeks ago my blog was about the life and death of Anne Boleyn the 2nd wife of King Henry VIII of England. Well this week brings the anniversary of his marriage to his 3rd wife just 11 days after he had Anne executed.
Jane Seymour was the 7th child of 10 born to Sir John Seymour and Margery Wentworth. Her father was knighted by King Henry VII for his role in quashing the uprising by the Cornish in 1497. Her mother was the 1st cousin of Elizabeth and Edmund Howard the children of the Duke of Norfolk. Elizabeth Howard was the mother of Anne Boleyn and Edmund was the father of Katherine Howard. Jane was born around 1508 in the West Country, most likely Wiltshire. She was educated to an extent and she could read and write but her most notable skill was needlework.
Jane first went to court in an official capacity in 1532 when she was approximately 24 years old. She was made a maid of honour to Queen Katherine of Aragon. Jane held this position for the rest of Katherine’s tenure as Queen and throughout Anne Boleyn’s reign as well. It is during the last few months of Queen Anne’s reign that it is believed Jane caught the attention of the King.
Jane has been described by many contemporary sources as being everything Anne wasn’t. The Imperial Ambassador to England from the Holy Roman Empire Eustace Chapuys described Jane as being a peacemaker, and others described her as being meek. She was also described as being of plain appearance and she banned all her ladies from dressing in the French style like they did under Anne.
Jane was also different from Anne in one major way. Jane was a Catholic whereas Anne was Protestant. Many hope Jane would sway Henry back to the Roman Catholic faith. Whether this would have happened is debatable but it is noted that when she tried to grant pardons for the participants of the Pilgrimage of Grace (an uprising in the north of England against the break from Rome in 1536) she was reminded by Henry as to what happened to Anne when she meddled in men’s affairs.
Jane became formally betrothed to Henry on the 20th May 1536 the day after the execution of Anne and the couple married on the 30th May 1536 at the Queens closet in the Palace of Whitehall. She was proclaimed Queen of England on the 4th June 1536. Jane was never crowned Queen as during the summer of 1536 plague struck London and so no coronation could take place. Some believed this was an excuse and Henry would not crown her until she produced a male heir.
In January 1537 it was announced Jane was pregnant with the couple’s first child. Jane entered her confinement in September 1537 at Hampton Court Palace. Jane was in labour for three days and finally in the early hours of the morning of the 12th October 1537 she gave birth to a son who was named Edward and he went on to become King Edward VI. This was to become the best and worse time for the Monarch. Henry rejoiced the birth of his much prayed for son but it was soon clear the Queen was unwell. Just 12 days after she gave birth she died from the results of child birth.
Jane was buried at St George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle on the 12th November 1537 with Lady Mary (Henry’s daughter by Katherine of Aragon) as chief mourner. In the space of a few weeks Lady Mary went from being made godmother to her new brother to chief mourner for her step mother. Jane’s tomb marker is in the middle of the Aisle of the chapel in the choir close to the alter. The memorial reads
There is no actual tomb for Jane and as you can see she was joined by her husband Henry after his death. Many believe Henry was buried along with her as she was his beloved wife, but in reality it could have been because she gave him the son he desperately wanted.
During her reign as Queen she managed to reconcile Henry with his daughters, in particularly Mary, and Henry allowed both to return to court. She had wanted Mary and Elizabeth restored to the succession after any children she bore to Henry, but alas this didn’t happen, although her successor Katherine Parr did achieve this with the succession being Edward, then Mary, then Elizabeth followed by the decedents or Mary Tudor, Henry VIII sister (i.e. Lady Jane Grey). She also moved her family up socially. Her eldest brother Edward was made the 1st Duke of Somerset and was the Lord Protector for King Edward VI during his minority. Another brother Thomas was made 1st Baron Seymour of Sudley and would later marry King Henry VIII widow Katherine Parr and he may have had an inappropriate relationship with Henry VIII daughter Elizabeth under the nose of his wife Katherine. In the end though the brothers lost everything, literally. Edward was executed in January 1552 for felony after struggles over who would be the Kings regent. Thomas was executed for treason in 1549 with the final straw being when he attempted to enter the King bedchamber with a loaded weapon and shot the Kings dog when it barked.
Jane was Queen of England for 512 days. She succeeded where her predecessors failed in producing a living male heir and had the honour of having the King buried alongside her. But if she hadn’t died would Henry have tired of her and either divorce her or had her executed or would he have lived a peaceful life surrounded by his wife and the many children they may have had. If Jane hadn’t died then history many have been completely different and the Tudors descended from Henry could still be around today.
Hello and thank you for taking the time to read my ramblings on genealogy and history in general. I hope you find it informative and hopefully funny!