We’ve all heard in our family’s strange saying and expression but have you ever wondered what they mean? I have. Some may even give you a link to where your ancestors may have come from it the expression has been used for years in a family.
Many of you will know the expression there’s ‘nowt so queer as folk’ from the film the Full Monty (which was set in Sheffield). This is an expression I know well as my Mum’s always said it. Well it’s a colloquialism from Yorkshire/Lancashire meaning there’s nothing as strange as people. So yes a good expression for Sheffielders to use. What’s unusual is that my maternal grandparents weren’t from Sheffield so presumably native Sheffielders said it and it got into our family that way.
Another expression used by our family is black over bills mothers meaning that there a dark clouds coming. This is a midlands expression but I have absolutely no ancestral connection to the midlands, so again this must have come from another source.
What about having a gale in your tail? It’s what’s said when kids go hyper when it’s windy. This is one expression I have no idea where it comes from, but it’s true, it happens.
So what other expressions are there that we may use but have no idea what the origins or the phrase are?
Well one of my favourites has always been ‘mad as a hatter’. I always thought it related to Alice in Wonderland and the mad hatter, but it doesn’t, but it does. The actual meaning of the saying related to the fact that people who mad hats used mercury when making felt. The process gave off mercury fumes which gave the hatters mercury poisoning which lead to a form of madness. Thus you become as mad as a hatter. This expression could indicate a Cheshire/Lancashire amongst others areas ancestry as many of the hatters came from these areas.
Winning hands down. We use it to mean someone can do something easily and has to put no effort into it. This expression comes from horse racing and means the jockey doesn’t have to do anything to encourage there horse i.e. use the whip as there are winning with their hands down. Do you have a jockey in your ancestry?
Skeleton in the closet. We all use this to mean we have something to hide or we don’t want people to know about. You may even have used it in genealogy when you have an ancestor who seems to have had something to hide. It’s actually thought to have come from the body snatchers who had to hid the bodies they dug up before they got them to the medical students for illegal dissection. This expression seems to be widespread throughout the UK.
One I’ve definitely used in genealogy is barking up the wrong tree. We all know it means looking in the wrong place either for a physical object or a piece of information. But what of the origin? Well it’s believed to come from hunting when the dogs chased birds up the trees and continued to bark up the tree thinking the prey was still there when in reality it had flown off. You may have seen it in your own dogs when they’re barking at something that’s not there anymore. Does this indicate a countryside based ancestor or has it just percolated throughout the entire country now as a widespread expression.
My final saying that many may have used but not known the origin is letting ones hair down. These days we use it to mean where having a good time and enjoying ourselves. Well next time you use it think of the medieval women who if they went out had to where their hair up in the fashionable styles and elaborate up does of the day. We all know how just having a ponytail in all day can be uncomfortable so when we get home we let our hair down, as did our medieval ancestors!
So next time you use an expression or colloquialism just think as to its origins and what it says about your ancestry.
In every generation there are those members of society who have unusual jobs. They may seem strange to us when we find them in the census but in the past they were could have been more common or even usual then.
So I’ve look through my tree and found you four people who had the most usual or less common jobs I could find.
I’d like to start with one of our family’s war heroes, James Briggs who was my great, great Grandma’s second son. James was born in Thorpe St Andrew in 1892 and died in 1917 in Belgium while fighting in WW1. Now James had a very important job for the company he worked for. James made the packaging for the company. He made the tins at the Colman’s mustard factory in Norwich, Norfolk. Now in the grand scheme of things this wasn’t an important job, but you have to admit it was unusual outside of Norwich.
Also in my family my 4 times great Grandad Enoch Goodwin was a toll keeper in Bosley Cheshire. My great, great Grandad Frederick Staton was a Professor of music at Worksop Priory in Nottinghamshire and I even have a dog track owner/bookie. My great Grandma’s brother owned and ran the greyhound track in the Darnall area of Sheffield and on the 1939 census he was recorded as a commission agent i.e. a book maker.
If you go through your family tree your bound to find someone who had an unusual job. They may have worked in industries that we are familiar with and even still exist but the role they carried out many not exist anymore and thus seem strange to us. So working in a coal mine may be a common job, but how many looked after the pit ponies?
One of the grossest unusual jobs was a resurrectionist, which thankfully doesn’t exist anymore. Now many will have no idea what this is and to be honest I didn’t know what it was. Once you read about it you will probably know 2 very famous ressurrectionists, Burke and Hare.
So what is a resurrectionist? Well in laymen’s terms it’s a body snatcher. Medical students needed bodies to dissect to understand how the human body worked. Unfortunately this was illegal unless the person had been executed. So since a dead body was not classed as belonging to anyone, you could theoretically take the body from a grave as long as you didn’t take any valuables from the body. Also the medical schools didn’t like to ask too many questions as to where the bodies were coming from.
So you have ressurectionists. Burke and Hare took it a step to far though. When they couldn’t get enough bodies they decided to kill people to get the bodies. They then sold these bodies to the medical school in Edinburgh. They were doing this in the 1820’s. They were eventually arrested and imprisoned. William Hare was released from prison after turning Kings Evidence (admitting he did it and informing on his accomplice). William Burke though, well he was tried and executed. Then he was dissected and if you want to see his skeleton it’s in the anatomical museum in Edinburgh and a book bound with his skin is in the surgeon’s museum.
So there were loads of unusual and strange jobs that our ancestors could have done for a living, but is it any stranger than today? If you think about it anyone in the future who looks back at my life if going to think I had a strange job and wonder what a genealogist was.
When it comes to genealogy we gather all the information on our ancestors and store it either on our computers or in folders, but what do we do with it then. Over the years I’ve seen many articles describing how to store genealogy and I want to give you a feel of some creative ways to display your family.
Most of us will be familiar with the concepts of photos of our family on the wall but I’ve seen some fantastic alternatives to just having a line of photos.
You could go down a more traditional route. Once you’ve completed your tree, (does this ever happen?) you could decide to create an ancestry chart. I’m sure you’ve seen them. You can get them that go back a number of generations. On these you can write the name of your ancestors and on some you can add vital information such as birth, death and marriage. You can make these and print them out form your genealogy software or you can buy them and fill them in yourselves. I’ve got a 10 generation chart which one day I will fill in and frame. You can get great charts from My History, a wonderful genealogy supply company in South Yorkshire (my home county). You can see these at: https://www.my-history.co.uk/acatalog/Blank_Family_Tree_Charts.html
You could also go down the route of having you tree printed professionally. This can be printed in huge sizes so if you’ve got a massive tree you could have each side of your family printed out and framed. Each side could then be hung on your wall with a photo of the starting person in the middle. There are many companies that can do this including My History.
One of the best I’ve seen involved a drawing of a tree on the wall. On to this was placed photos of ancestors with a name plate underneath. On the plate was the person’s vital information. Now I know we’re not all that creative as to be able to draw a tree on our sitting room wall. You can buy massive stick on tree decals which you can put on the wall. On to this you could either stick photos of your ancestors or hang photos in frames on the wall in strategic places on the wall. I saw this done on the wall of a stair case so the tree started at the bottom of the stairs and the branches went up the wall to the upstairs. On it were the photos on the person’s ancestors.
It doesn’t have to be a permanent display of your ancestors. You can display your ancestry in books. You could make yourself a scrapbook to display your ancestry. You can get as creative as you like. You can add background papers, photos and information on your ancestors. You can also add embellishments relevant to your ancestors and family stories to help bring their lives to life for future generations.
You could write a book about your ancestors. I’m not talking about a novel, although you could, but more their lives story. You could fill it with stories of their lives, photos and all the information about them. In some ways this is much the same as the scrapbook idea but it could contain more information. You can include copies of your evidence such as certificate and census returns.
So why not make this year the year you pull all of your ancestors together so you can easily look at them and read all the information you have. It may help you to connect with them more easily and also make them accessible to other members of your family.
Oh no it isn’t, Oh yes it is!
So it’s the time of year where families go to see pantomimes throughout the land. Some are in small village halls and others are in theatres of the West End in London. For some of us it’s the only time a year where we go to a theatre for others it’s just another visit. For me it was a massive family outing on New Year’s Eve to the City Hall in Sheffield to see the brilliant panto by Manor Operatic, one of the largest amateur theatre companies in Britain.
This got me thinking about how few theatres there are in Sheffield, my home town, as opposed to when my Great Grandparents were young in the city.
So I decided to look into this. Who knew there was a website dedicated to the theatres of the past? You can see this site at: http://www.arthurlloyd.co.uk/index.html
I didn’t just look at this site though I knew there were other theatres which were not listed on this site. So I looked through the picture archive at Picture Sheffield at: http://www.picturesheffield.com/ I searched for theatres and found pictures of even more.
So in total I found Sheffield has had 31 theatres over the years. Most of them were found in the city centre and they had a habit of changing their names so it may appear there were more.
The oldest theatre I found was opened in 1773 on Tudor Street. It was called the Theatre Royal. It remained open until 1935 when the building was destroyed by fire and subsequently demolished. In its time the theatre was thought to be one of the best outside London, but I’m sure most places felt theirs were the best. For those of you who know Sheffield the current Crucible Theatre in Tudor Square, home of the World Snooker Championship, sits on the site of the Theatre Royal.
The most recent theatre to be built was in fact the Crucible Theatre on the site of the Theatre Royal. In some ways this is nice as it means the site has been used for entertainment since 1773. Admittedly the Crucible didn’t open until 1971 so there was a mere 36 year gap, but who’s counting. The Crucible theatre has several stages with the main one having a capacity of 900.
The theatre which had the largest capacity was the Alexandra Music Hall, which had also been called the Alexandra Theatre and the Adelphi Theatre. This theatre was opened in 1837 and remained open until 1914. The building was subsequently demolished to widen a road. The theatre was at the junction of Furnival Road and Blonk Street close to where Ladys Bridge is. At its height the auditorium could hold between 3000 and 4000. Considering the population of Sheffield in 1861 was 161,000 it’s not actually that many residents could go at once, but even so.
Sheffield has a tiny theatre. It’s called the Lantern Theatre. It was built by a rich industrialist as his private theatre and was used by his children to put on performances. It was built in 1893 in the Nether Edge area of the city. It holds a huge audience of …..84. The theatre is still in use today.
Currently in Sheffield there are only 7 theatres remaining, not including the massive arena, which hold over 13,000. These are the Crucible, the Lyceum, the Library, the Montgomery, the City Hall, the Merlin and the Lantern. The thing that amuses me though is that the Crucible, the Lyceum and the Library theatres are in the same square.
There are more plays going on though. Church halls throughout Sheffield hold amateur plays throughout the year as well as school halls and other venues.
I suppose with the advent of cinema the theatres couldn’t compete and they shut, although many of the Sheffield theatres became cinemas and some did maintain small theatres in them. Then telly came along and started to kill off the cinemas as well. Most people of my parent’s generation went to the cinema every week and most suburbs of the city had a cinema. Where I grew up the cinema building was half mile walk away. It’s a pub now and was a supermarket when I was a kid. These days in Sheffield there are only huge multiplex cinemas. I don’t really know since the last film I saw at the cinema was Jurassic Park in 1993!
So how we are entertained may have changes, but I know one thing for sure. My Great Grandparents had a lot of options on where to go and see plays and music hall.
I really believe that children need to learn about their ancestors. These days we don’t live close together as families like our ancestors did and so were may not know as much about our forebears.
So since its Christmas time there is a good chance that families will be getting together and meeting up with family members they haven’t seen in ages. Kids tend to get bored at these gatherings. So why not set them the challenge of finding out more about their ancestors.
I remember as a kid having to ask questions of my Grandpa as part of a school project. I had a sheet with my questions on and Grandpa wrote down his answers in my Fraggle Rock note book as I sat with him in his bedroom and asked the questions.
I was trying to decide what the questions were and I think they must have been:
1. Where did you live growing up?
2. How many rooms were there in your house?
3. How many bedrooms did your house have?
4. Who lived in the house?
6. What was used for cleaning the house?
7. How did you do the washing?
8. How was the house heated?
9. What was there in the kitchen?
10. What furniture did you have in your bedroom?
11. What was in the bathroom?
12. What furniture was in the sitting room?
So from here I decided to compile a list of questions children could ask their parents, grandparents and if their lucky enough great grandparents (I was lucky I knew both my paternal great grandma’s).
1. What is your full name?
2. When and where were you born?
3. Did you have a nick name?
4. What were your parent’s names?
5. When were your parent’s dates of birth?
6. Where were your parents born?
7. What were your siblings called and when and where were they born?
8. Where did you live?
9. Where did you go to school?
10. What was you highest qualification?
11. Who did you marry?
12. Where did you meet your spouse?
13. When did you get married?
14. Who were your bridesmaids and best man?
15. Did you have any children?
16. What did you do for a living?
17. Who were your grandparents?
18. When and where were they born?
19. What were their occupations?
20. Did you know your Great Grandparents?
21. What can you tell me about them?
22. When and where did they die?
23. Where were they buried or cremated?
They could take a list of questions with them to the family gathering and ask away. Once they’ve got all their answers they could spend the rest of Christmas writing the story of their ancestors. Or they could have one of the many blank ancestor forms from the Internet download and printed and then file them in. There is a great selection at: https://www.cyndislist.com/free-stuff/printable-charts-and-forms/
They could also have a blank family tree printed out and filed in or even better make one. All you need to do is draw a tree and place small printed out photos of your ancestors and stick them on. Then write their names underneath. Alternatively use one of the many blank family trees which can be printed out that don’t have photos on.
Who knows what impact going through this process may have on the kids. They may develop an interest in genealogy. This may lead to a lifelong passion for the subject and who knows where they may end up. They may up being a professional genealogist like me. This could also lead them to a passion for history in general as a hobby and it’s well know a knowledge of the past can help in future.
Another quick thought is to get a cheap diary and get the kids to write all the birth, marriages and deaths of their ancestors in it so they can wish a happy birthday to them.
So enjoy Christmas however you spend it and if you can get some genealogy into it then that’s brilliant.
Merry Christmas to all for Family History Research England.
In the whole of the monarchy of England/Great Britain only 4 Kings have ever abdicated. These were Edward II in 1327, Richard II in 1399, James VII (II in England but you use the highest regnal number and he was James VII in Scotland) and finally Edward VII on the 11th December 1936. So most of us will have probably a living relative to either lived through this period or knew someone who did.
Edward VIII was born on the 23rd of June 1894 at the White Lodge, Richmond Park, London. He was the first child born to the Duke and Duchess of York (later King George V and Queen Mary). He was the grandson of the King at the time Edward VII. Edward’s full name was Edward Albert Christian George Andrew Patrick David. Within the family he was known as David.
On Edward’s 16th birthday in 1910 he was created the Prince of Wales after his father ascended to the throne of Great Britain. He was invested as the Prince of Wales at Caernafon Castle in Wales on the 13th July 1911.
Edward attended Naval college (but never graduated) and during WW2 he joined the Grenadier Guards. He wanted to fight but as the heir to the throne this was not allowed. Edward eventually took to flying and became a qualified pilot.
As Edward got older he became known for enjoying life shall we say. He had a string of mistresses, and it is through one of these mistresses, Lady Furness, he met the woman who would change his life and impact greatly on the country as a whole.
In January 1931 Edward was introduced to an American woman by the name of Wallis Simpson.
Wallis Simpson was born in 1894 in Pennsylvania, USA. She was named Bessie Wallis Warfield by her parents Teackle Wallis Warfield and Alice Montague. Wallis married her first husband Earl Winfield Spencer in 1916 in Baltimore, USA and the divorced in 1927. She married secondly in 1928 in Chelsea, London to Ernest Aldrich Simpson. It was while she was married to him she began the affair with Edward. In fact it wasn’t until 5 years after she began the affair with Edward that she divorced him. During this period the relationship between Edward and Wallis became somewhat of a scandal for the King and Queen. They had no fondness for Wallis at all and would not accept her as she was a divorcee and under Church of England law a divorcee could not marry in church, and since Edward was heir to the throne he would have needed to marry in church, as the monarch could not marry a divorcee (this has since changed).
The problems for Edward got worse in January 1936. On the 20th January his father King George V died thus making Edward King Edward VIII. When he was proclaimed King of the Realm Wallis was by his side. The couple were seen together a lot and even holidayed together. They famously, or infamously visited Germany and met with Adolf Hitler.
In October 1936 Wallis divorced her second husband and Edward made it known he wished to marry her. Parliament at the time were against such as marriage as marrying after a divorce was against church laws, and as King Edward was head of the Church of England. Also they felt the people would never accept Wallis as Queen. The Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin gave Edward 3 choices. Not marry Wallis, marry her against parliament’s wishes or abdicate.
Edward signed his abdication on the 11th December 1936. Those present were his 3 brother, Prince Albert, Duke of York, Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester and Prince George, Duke of Kent. The next day Edward made a radio statement to the nation in which he stated “I have found it impossible to carry the heavy burden of responsibility and to discharge my duties as king as I would wish to do without the help and support of the woman I love”. On the 13th December Edward and Wallis left England for Austria and he was now known as the Duke of Windsor.
Edward and Wallis finally married in France in 1937 with Wallis then becoming the Duchess of Windsor. The couple stayed together until Edward died in France in 1972 just days after a private visit from his niece, Queen Elizabeth II. Edward was buried at Frogmore, Windsor where Wallis would join him in 1986. The couple never had any children.
So in 1936 Great Britain had 3 monarchs in King George V, King Edward VIII and the newly crowned King George VI who was Edwards’s brother and had been known as Prince Albert, Duke of York. And all for the love of a divorced woman. Now it wouldn’t matter at all!
On the 2nd December 1697 the new St Paul’s Cathedral in London was consecrated after being rebuilt following the great fire of London in 1666. This new building is believed to be the 5th church to stand on this site. If you had any London based ancestors they may have seen the Cathedral being built and have witness the opening day.
The old St Paul’s cathedral was begun in 1087 after the previous building was destroyed by fire. It took until 1240 for the building to be completed and consecrated. The church was built in the gothic style and had features including pointed arches and large window. It’s most impressive feature was said to be the wooden vaulted ceiling. The building was not maintained over the years and by the time of King Henry VIII (1509 -1547) the church was in disrepair. The old St Paul’s suffered during the reformation (1536-1541) when all the iconography and shrines were removed. Then next tragedy to befall the Cathedral came in 1561 when the spire was struck by lightning and destroyed. Then came the year 1666.
During the great fire of London much of London was destroyed by the fire including 87 religious buildings. St Paul’s was gutted in the fire as the wooden ceiling acted as a wick to move the fire throughout the building. The decision was made to rebuild the Cathedral rather than repair.
Once the decision to rebuild was made plans were submitted for the new building. The winning entry came from Christopher Wren, the man who just before the fire was given the job of renovating the old St Paul’s and who was to rebuild many of the other lost churches in London. He was commissioned in 1669. By 1670 the old building was being removed and the site cleared. In 1675 building work began on the new Cathedral. The building wasn’t finished until 1711, but the statues on the outside of the building were not installed until the 1720’s.
St Paul’s Cathedral has some impressive statistics. The building is 158m long, at its widest point the transept it is 75m and the height of the building to the top of the dome is 111m. The dome itself is really impressive with it being the second largest dome in the world after the dome of St Peter’s in Rome, Italy. The diameter of the dome is 34m and you can go up to the base of the dome on what is called the whispering gallery. On this walk way if you stand against the wall and whisper something it can be heard on the other side of the dome perfectly.
The Cathedral has 12 bells and 3 bells for the clock. The largest clock bell is Big Tom which is rung on the death of a member of the Royal Family. It was last rung in 2002 when Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother died.
The final cost of the rebuild was stated in 1719 as £1,095,556 which in today’s terms is about £127,202,268 and would probably have cost millions more.
The Cathedral was hit twice by bombs in WW2 with damage to the alter area and the north transept. It’s survival during the war gave hope to the city that London would survive.
There have been over 200 people buried or commemorated in the crypt of the cathedral. Probably the most famous is that of Sir Christopher Wren himself. His memorial plaque is just genius. It reads ‘Reader if you seek his monument, look around you’. I suppose what better memorial to the man than his own designed Cathedral. Also buried in the cathedral include The Duke of Wellington and Admiral Lord Nelson. The funeral of Winston Churchill was also held in the Cathedral.
So St Paul’s Cathedral may not be the main church of London, that’s Westminster Abbey, but it is the one we know the most about as we have pictures and records of it being built. We can see the original plans Wren submitted and can see the records of what was used to build it.
These days were bombarded by adverts from products. There in the newspapers, on TV every 20 minutes, on our tablets and phones and posters around our towns and cities and we even get them emailed to us. We simply can’t get away from them but to our ancestors they were revolutionary as they had never seen before.
The first adverts were found in newspapers in the early 1700’s but they became most common in the Victorian ear. They advertised new and exciting products that had claims to aid their lives and their health. Many adverts were for medicines which may or may not have worked.
I’m interested in medicine advertising as 2 of my 5 times great uncles ran a druggist store in Hudson, New York State. They left Leek in Staffordshire in the 1840’s with their father Hugh Wardle. Hugh had been a druggist in Leek and when he left his second wife and her children he set up with his sons in the USA. Now I like to believe they were a reputable druggist store as they were in Hudson for many years with the store passing to their sons but not all druggists were. Also one of the brothers graduated from Columbia University as a physician and he was a Reverend.
There were the quacks who sold drugs and devices which claimed to cure ailment with bizarre methods. Some of my favourites were the adverts for cigarettes which claimed to aid asthmatics, which as we know probably did more harm than good. But because the advert said it would help people believed them. Also the adverts for vibration and electrical devices to help those of a nervous disposition that were nothing more than devices for intimate areas.
Another of my favourite remedies was for constipation. You could have an antimony ball which you swallowed, it went through you and cleaned you out and then you fished it out of you stools and washed it and put it back in the box for next time. The entire family could use it. Not dangerous at all!
It wasn’t just the things they were selling but it was what was in them. Some of the ingredients were just damned right dangerous. If they were putting plaster of paris and chalk in bread to bulk out the dough for bread, then what was in the quack medicines.
Can you imagine having a toothache and taking cocaine tablets for it? No wonder the pain went, you were high. Also cocaine is highly addictive so if the toothache went on for long enough you could end up addicted to them. The advert implies the drops are safe for children. Giving cocaine to children! Can you imagine these days if this was suggested as a cure for toothache in children, everyone involved would be struck off and closed down and probably shipped off to prison and the child taken into care.
Another advert promoting cocaine was as a hair tonic to get rid of dandruff and make you hair shine. Makes the modern shampoo adverts seem boring.
What gets me the most is that many of these medicines were not available in the shops. In the case of the cocaine drops they were but many it was just send off for them out of the paper. You had no information as to whether they were safe or what the ingredients were or even if they did what they said they did. We rely on stringent safety laws to make sure our medications are safe but in the Victorian and Edwardian periods there was no such thing. Further back in history the pills you got could contain fatal ingredients. Also who’s to say that once you sent off for you medicines that you would ever get them. You probably couldn’t complain to the newspaper as they just published the adverts.
Taking all of this into account our ancestors were taking a huge risk by purchasing and using a lot of the drugs sold via newspaper advert, at best they were harmless and may have had a placebo effect but they could kill you. It was probably best to stick to the druggists as hopefully they had training in medicines.
Eleanor of Aquitaine was a powerful woman who had influence of much of France and England in her lifetime. She was the wife of 2 kings and the mother to 2 kings. She was Duchess of Aquitaine in her own right. She participated in the Crusades in the Holy Land, was regent of England while her son was on the Crusades and in captivity and raised the ransom for him. But what of her genealogy?
Bit of background first.
Eleanor was born around 1122 in France (probably Aquitaine) to William X Duke of Aquitaine and Aenor de Chatelleraut. Her first marriage was to Louis the Younger of France, son of Louis VI of France. He became Louis VII of France a few days after the marriage. The couple married on the 25th July 1137 at Bordeaux Cathedral, France. The couple had their marriage annulled in 1152 due to consanguinity, most likely as Louis was desperate for a son but was also celibate (unless his doctors told him not to be) and Eleanor’s eye had be caught by another and was a strong woman and the King was not as strong, as well as many other factors.
Eleanor secondly married Henry II, Duke of Normandy the son of Geoffrey of Anjou and the Empress Matilda of England (the daughter of King Henry I) in May 1152. Henry became King of England in 1154 after the death of his Uncle Stephen. During this marriage the couple had a love hate relationship with Eleanor and her sons fighting against the King. This lead to Eleanor spending 19 years imprisoned on and off until the King died.
Eleanor had 10 children by her 2 husbands.
By King Louis she had:
1. Marie of France born in 1145 in France. She married Henry I, Count of Champagne in 1164 and had 4 children. Marie was Countess of Champagne. She died in 1198 in Champagne, France.
2. Alix of France born in 1150 in France. She married Theobald V, Count of Blois in 1164 and had 7 children. She was Countess of Blois. She died in 1197/98 in France.
By King Henry she had:
1. William IX, Count of Poitiers who was born in Normandy in 1153. He died in 1156 at Wallingford Castle and was buried in Reading Cathedral.
2. Henry the Young King. He was born in 1155 at Bermondsey Palace, London. In 1172 he married Margaret of France in Winchester Cathedral. She was the half-sister of his half-sisters Marie and Alix. They had 1 son who died when he was a few days old. Henry died in France in 1183 after a siege. He was buried in Rouen Cathedral.
3. Matilda of England was born in 1156 at Windsor Castle. In 1168 she married Henry Duke of Saxony at Minden Cathedral and the couple had 5 children. Matilda was Duchess of Saxony. She died in 1189 at Brunswick, Saxony.
4. Richard I King of England (3/9/1189 – 6/4/1199). Richard was born in 1157 at Beaumont Palace in Oxfordshire. He was King of England, Duke of Normandy, Aquitaine, Gascony, Lord of Cyprus, Count of Poitiers, Anjou, Maine and Nantes (thank goodness he didn’t have all that on a business card). Richard married Berengaria of Navarre, daughter of King Sancho VI of Navarre in 1191 in Limassol, Cyprus. The couple had no children. Richard died from an arrow wound in 1199 in Chalus, Aquitaine and was buried at Fontevrault Abbey at his father’s feet, except his heart which is in Rouen Cathedral.
5. Geoffrey II Duke of Brittany was born in 1158 in England. In 1181 he married Constance of Brittany the daughter of Conan IV, Duke of Brittany and they had 3 children. Geoffrey died in 1186 in Paris.
6. Eleanor of England, Queen Consort of Castile was born in 1611 in Normandy. She married in 1170 or 1177 King Alfonso VIII of Castile in Burgos, Castile and they had 12 children. Eleanor died in Burgos in 1214 and was buried there.
7. Joan of England, Queen Consort of Sicily and Countess of Toulouse. Joan was born in 1165 in Anjou and married firstly King William II of Sicily in 1177. She married Raymond VI Count of Toulouse in 1196 and they had 3 children. Joan died in Rouen in 1199 and was buried in Fontevrault Abbey at her father’s head.
8. John, King of England (27/5/1199 – 19/10/1216). John was born in 1166 at Beaumont Palace, Oxfordshire. He married firstly in 1189 at Marlborough Castle, Wiltshire to Isabella Countess of Gloucester but the marriage was annulled in 1199 on the grounds of consanguinity. He then married in 1200 Isabella Countess of Angouleme in Angouleme and they had 5 children. John died at Newark Castle in Nottinghamshire in 1216.
Eleanor died on the 1st April 1204 at Fontevraud Abbey where she had become a nun. She was buried alongside her husband Henry II and son Richard I.
So Eleanor was the Duchess of Aquitaine, Queen Consort of France, Queen Consort of the Franks, Queen Consort of England and Regent of England. She was mother of Kings, Queens consorts, Dukes, Duchesses, Counts and Countesses. She had 10 children and 40 grandchildren. She is the 21 times great Grandmother of Queen Elizabeth II and thus 24 time great Grandmother of youngest members of the Royal Family.
Anyone interested in genealogy has probably come across death certificates and found out what their ancestors died from. But this only shows what one individual died from. What was the general population at whole dying from?
This thinking all started a couple of weeks ago when there was a programme on about the Spanish flu epidemic of 1918. My family was always led to believe that my Great Grandma died in this flu outbreak in 1918. She didn’t she died of an appendicitis, so why her daughter was told this I don’t know. It got me thinking what were the major causes of our ancestor’s deaths throughout England and Wales (I only use the 2 countries as they were the statistics I found).
Well let’s start in the 20th century. According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS) the most common causes of death in adults over 25 from 1915 to 1945 was infection (such as pneumonia and TB), cancer and heart conditions. All conditions we are unfortunately familiar with today. When the under 25’s are considered it was infections which took most lives, but by 1945 motor vehicles became a factor.
If we look back from 1900 we find our ancestors were dying from different things. It should be noted that the ONS figures don’t give exact illness but rather lumped similar illnesses together.
The first ones on the list from 1900 back until 1851 is smallpox followed by measles and scarlet fever. Some of the other illnesses on the list are things that these days we wouldn’t even think of dying from like diarrhoea, you may wish for it but tablets can stop it thankfully!
Other conditions caused the world around our ancestors to change. For example cholera. It was during the outbreaks of this condition that it was begun to be believed that there was a link between contaminated water and the outbreaks of the disease. This lead to the installation of water pipes going into individual homes with the water coming from reservoirs rather than the rivers which were running with sewage. It seems so obvious to us that if you drink the water full of poop then you will be ill, but it took until the 1850’s for John Snow to find the link in London.
Other surprising conditions which were causing death included whooping cough. I’d had whooping cough and I have to say I quiet enjoyed it at times. I’m not making light of the condition and I can understand how people who were weak and not getting enough food could become exhausted and die. I was 11/12 years old when I had the illness. I didn’t do PE at school for 6 months as I used to start coughing and the teacher would think it was best to sit it out for today, success! I hated PE. It also gave the family a great anecdote. In Derbyshire there is a cycle track called the Tissington Trail which is the path of a disused railway. Me and my family went for a day out and hired bikes. I started coughing so bad I was sick. Now being me I continued to ride my bike and just threw up to the side. I had to come home wrapped in my Mum’s coat as I got it everywhere. Such fun!
There were other causes of death on the list that you might expect such as childbirth, fever and lung disease. All these condition may have been made worse by poor living condition and not enough food, if you’re already week and have a bad child birthing then it becomes more dangerous to both mother and child. For example one of my 3 times great grandfathers ended up in jail (for contempt of court) and he left with TB due to the living conditions which killed him within 9 months of his release. In the case of lung disease the person’s employment could make the condition worse or even cause it. One of my other 3 times great grandfather died from asthma and he was a stone mason.
So we could say that as our living conditions improved we stopped dying of preventable diseases such as TB and cholera and went on to disease we still may have got but we may cause ourselves to be more susceptible to such as cancer and heart disease.
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!