So as we move into August 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, although this year it is most likely staying at home, annoying perhaps but if it gets rid of the Rona then it will be 100% worth it. 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 wetsuits. 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.
Today we live more in a throwaway society and if something is damaged or broken it goes. At the moment though we may be more inclined to repair or upcycle things or maybe even modify. But our ancestors would have had no choice but to keep mending and reusing things until they had no life left in the item.
I’m sure we’ve all done it. We get a garment that gets a hole in it and so it goes. But what would our ancestors have done. Well this would have depended on the damage. So for clothes they would have mended them if they could. Socks would be darned and holes would be stitched up.
How many of us would have thrown these jeans away? Our ancestors would never have done this. They would have carefully stitched over the area until the mend would nearly have been invisible. If the damage was too great then the garment would probably have be reused in another way. In the case of a pair of trousers that were damaged on the bottom they could be shortened and given to a younger member of the family. If this wasn’t possible then the garment could be turned into something else. So for example if a pair of curtains was ripped on the top and couldn’t be mended then the fabric could be recycled into clothes for someone.
But if the fabric was beyond use for being turned into new clothes then it still had a use. Cleaning in the home was a very time consuming chore for the lady of the house. Everything had to be done by hand. So having rags was essential. Old clothes could be used for washing floors and dusting and even for use as washing cloths and towels for the family. They could even be used to make a rag rug by attaching rags to a hessian sack to keep the cold from their feet.
But what when the rags were beyond use for that. Well they could be used in the garden. They could be strung over the garden to keep the birds off the crops. If they weren’t even fit for this they would be sold to a rag and bone man who would then sell the rags to shoddy makers. These were factories that recycled the rags into yarn to make new cloth.
But what else did our ancestors make do and mend. Well obviously scraps of material could be used to make toys for children such as balls and rag dolls. Also old furniture could be reused after its functional life was over. So if a chair had a broken leg then the leg could possibly be mended by a new piece of wood being attached but if all the legs were damaged by rot at the foot then the legs could just be cut down to make a child’s chair. Or if the whole set of chairs and the table had rot then the whole lot could be shortened.
Pieces of wood could be collected and used in a variety of ways. In rural areas wood could be used to mend fencing and mend holes in buildings and even to build new items such as storage boxes to pack vegetables and flowers to send them to market. In the towns wood could also be used for covering windows instead of curtains or even making pallet beds to sleep on.
Today there is a mass market for selling crafting products and we can make so many different things from our own clothes to our own furniture. We make our own Christmas decorations and gift for one another, but in reality our ancestors had been doing this for as long as time can remember with the bits and pieces they had in their homes as nothing was wasted, everything was used until it couldn’t be used anymore or made into something else and then they would perhaps have been able to get a few penny’s for them.
A while ago I looked at the lives of the Mother’s in Law of King Henry VIII. I thought it was about time I considered his Father’s in Law.
Henry’s first Father in Law was King Ferdinand II of Aragon, the father of Catherine of Aragon. When Henry and Catherine married in 1509 Ferdinand was the King of Aragon, Majorca, Sardinia, Valencia, Sicily, Naples and Navarre. He was also Count of Barcelona. Whilst his wife Queen Isabella of Castile was alive he was King of Castile as well. Ferdinand was born in Aragon on the 10th March 1452. He was the son of King John II of Aragaon and his wife Juana Enriquez. When he married Infanta Isabella of Castile the heir to the throne of Castile Ferdinand was only King of Sicily. Ferdinand is probably best known as being one of the monarchs to introduce the Spanish Inquisition of Spain. It was used to expel the non-Catholic people from Spain or force them to convert to Catholicism. After Isabella’s death in 1504 Ferdinand continued to have a role in Castille when his daughter inherited the throne. Due to her metal state after her husband’s death Ferdinand acted as regent for his grandson the future King Charles I of Spain and Holy Roman Emperor. The King remarried after Isabella died. He married the 18 year old niece of King Louis XII of France in an attempt to a male heir to inherit the throne of Aragon. Ferdinand was 54 and the marriage did produce a son but he died young, thus the throne of Aragon went to his daughter Joanna I. Ferdinand died in 1516 in Spain and was buried in the Royal Chapel of Granada alongside his first wife Isabella of Castile. Through his children he was the father in law of the King of Portugal through his daughters Isabella and Maria who both married King Emanuel I of Portugal and King Henry I of Portugal through his daughter Maria as well as Henry VII.
Henry’s second father in law was Thomas Boleyn the father of Anne Boleyn. Thomas was born around 1477 in Norfolk to Sir William Boleyn a wealthy merchant and his wife Lady Margaret Butler. He married Lady Elizabeth Howard around 1499. She was the daughter of Thomas Howard the 2nd Duke of Norfolk. The couple had 3 surviving children in Mary, Anne and George. As Anne’s favour grew at court so did Thomas. He was an envoy and ambassador for the King in Europe. He was made Viscount Rochford by the King and later Henry interceded on his behalf in a dispute over the titles of the Earldoms of Ormond and Wiltshire which both were granted to Thomas. Thomas was made a Knight of the Garter and was Lord Privy Seal (he was responsible for looking after the Kings personal seal). As Anne and George fell from favour so too did Thomas. After the execution of his children which Thomas accepted without fighting Thomas lost his positions and titles. He died at his home Hever Castle in Kent in 1539. He was survived by his wife and daughter Mary Stafford.
Father in Law number 3 for the King was Sir John Seymour, the father of Jane Seymour. He was a prominent member of court and society before his daughter’s marriage to the King. He was knighted by King Henry VII for his role in helping end the Cornish uprising in 1497. Other positions he held included Sheriff of several counties in the West Country, a Knight and Groom of the Bedchamber. This made him close to the King. John married Margery Wentworth in 1494 and they had 10 children. His son Edward became the 1st Earl of Hertford and then Duke of Somerset and the Lord Protector during the early reign of his nephew King Edward VI. Thomas Seymour married the widow of King Henry VIII, Catherine Parr and was an influence, not necessarily for the good, in the young life of Princess Elizabeth Tudor. John and Margery’s daughter Lady Elizabeth Seymour married the son of Sir Thomas Cromwell, King Henry VIII right hand man. The couple survived Sir Thomas Cromwell’s fall from grace and had a comfortable life and of course Jane became Queen Consort. Sir John Seymour lived long enough to see his daughter become Queen in May 1536 but he died in December of the same year.
So there is a brief overview of Henry’s first 3 father’s in law. Coming soon will be father’s in law 4-6.
It’s the time of year when all the towns and villages start should be hosting their village shows. There would be tea and cake a plenty, tombola’s and competitions for the waggiest dog tail or the scruffiest mutt. I’m sure in one form or another most people have been to one be it the school fete or the church bazaar. But alas this year we have to accept that they are not going to happen as we deal with the events of the world and the impact they are having on our daily lives.
So how does this link into genealogy? Well your ancestors may have taken part in the show. They may have run a stall or they may have entered the produce show.
This is when the historic records can give you an insight into your ancestor’s lives. The newspaper archive combined with the census results can give you so much information on your ancestors, if you’re lucky.
Now before everyone gets excited this is going to be hit and miss and depend upon where your ancestors lived.
So how does this work. Well by using the census you can find out where your ancestors lived. If they lived in a more rural location such as the villages of the peak district or North Yorkshire (or anywhere similar) then there is a greater chance of your ancestors participating in a village show. From the information on where your ancestor lived you can search the newspaper archive for information on the show. Just type in your ancestors name and the search the local newspaper nearest to where they lived. Please don’t bother searching the national newspapers as they hardly ever carried information on such events.
So what can you find out? Well you may discover that they were a judge in the show and that they chose the winning onions in the produce show. You may also find out that they entered the produce or flower shows. Perhaps your great grandma won a prize for her sponge cake or your great, great Grandfather grew a massive marrow.
From here you can gain an insight into their everyday lives. If your ancestors were judges in an event then they were respected in the field they were judging or they were a respected within the community. For anyone who has ever read the James Herriot novels in the All Creatures Great and Small series may remember when James judged the produce show and the pressure it put on him especially when he knew nothing about judging vegetables. It didn’t help when the winner was the driver of one of his clients who was found of giving out expensive food hampers from her dog Trickey Woo!
It also can tell you about the living conditions of your ancestors. If they were able to enter the produce show, be it flowers or vegetables then they must have had a garden to be able to grow the produce in. Not many people would have had access to a garden in the towns unless they lived in places such as Saltaire or Bornville. Also it means they had the leisure time in which to tend and grow the produce. This means they were not just working and sleeping like those in some of the mills and factories. If they were able to enter a cake into a show then they must have had the spare income to be able to make a cake that wasn’t going to be used to feed the family.
Agricultural show results can also be a great source of information. We’ve all see the great agricultural shows such as the Great Yorkshire Show, Bakewell show the Royal Welsh Show. On many censuses if your ancestor was a farmer it may just say farmer and not what they farmed. So if your ancestor turns up in the show results with a prize winning cow then you know they had cattle and thus can learn more about what they life of a cattle farmer was like.
So the village show results in the newspaper can show you more about the lives of your ancestors than your perhaps thought, but even if you can’t find their names in the archive don’t be down heartened as if you know they lived in the village or area of the show then the chances were they were there and you can find out about what they experienced on that day.
So in part 1 we looked at the first 3 Mother’s in Law of King Henry VIII, Queen Isabella of Castile & Leon, Lady Elizabeth Boleyn and Lady Margery Seymour. Now onto Mother’s in Law 4-6.
Mother in Law 4 was Maria of Jülich-Berg, the mother of Anne of Cleves. She was born in 1491 in what is now Germany to William IV, Duke of Julich-Berg and his wife Sibylle of Brandenburg. Maria was her father’s heir and inherited his titles in 1511 when he died. Maria married John III, Duke of Cleves in 1509 and the couple had 3 children, William 1516-1592 who became Duke of Julich-Cleves-Berg, Amalia 1517-1586 and Anne 1515-1557 who married King Henry VIII of England. After her husband’s death in 1511 Maria did not re marry. She raised her children with Catholic ideals even though they became Protestants, hence King Henry wanting to marry one of her daughters. There is some suggestion that Maria was against the marriage of Anne to Henry. Some say it was due to what had happened to his previous wives and others say she didn’t want her daughter to leave. Maria died in 1543. In her life time her son became a Duke and her daughter became Queen Consort of England, briefly.
Henry’s next wife was the ill-fated Catherine Howard. Her mother was Jocasta or Joyce Culpeper. She was born around 1480 to Sir Richard Culpeper and Isabel Worsley. Joyce married twice. The first was to Ralph Leigh who was her step father’s brother. They had 5 children, Sir John Leigh, Ralph Leigh, Isabel Leigh, Joyce Leigh and Margaret Leigh. After her husband’s death Joyce went on to marry Lord Edmund Howard who was the 3rd son of Thomas Howard, 2nd Duke of Norfolk. Together they had 6 children, Henry Howard, Sir Charles Howard, Sir George Howard, Margaret Howard, Catherine Howard c1523-1542 and Mary Howard. Little more is known about Joyce as she is believed to have died in 1528 and no definitive portrait of her is known. If she had survived I wonder how the life of her daughter may have differed. It must be said that it is very likely King Henry knew his future mother in law or at least had met her as her husband Edmund Howard was a member of the court and one of the Kings attendants.
Henry’s final wife Catherine Parr was the daughter of Sir Thomas Parr and his wife Maud Green. Maud was born in Northamptonshire in 1492 to Sir Thomas Green and his wife Jane Fogge. Maud was at the Royal court from around 1509 as she was a lady in waiting to Queen Consort Catherine of Aragon and was one of the Queens closest ladies entrusting the organisation of the education of the Royal children to her since Maud was intelligent and well educated for the time. Before she arrived at court she married Sir Thomas Parr who was the Sheriff of Northamptonshire. Together the couple had 3 children who survived. They were Catherine Parr 1512-1548 who became Queen Consort number 6 to King Henry VIII and was the god daughter of Queen Consort Catherine of Aragon and probably named after her, William Parr 1st Marquess of Northamptonshire and 1st Earl of Essex 1513-1571 and Anne Parr 1515-1552 who became Countess of Pembroke. Maud died before she would ever know that her daughter had become Queen Consort. She died in 1531 and was buried in St Ann’s, Blackfriars alongside her husband Thomas who had died in 1517.
What Henry’s relationship with his mother’s in law that he knew was like we may never know, but none of them got into trouble with him for anything so maybe he liked them. He would have definitely known Lady Elizabeth Boleyn nee Howard, Lady Margery Seymour nee Wentworth and Lady Maud Parr nee Green as they would have been at court during his time as King. Did he know Joyce Culpeper? Possibly through her husband. He wouldn’t have known Queen Isabella of Castile & Leon as she died before he married her daughter and Maria of Jülich-Berg is not known to have visited Anne of Cleves. Also what they thought of him is not known but whatever the relationship their daughters went on to become Queens of England for better or worse, mainly worse.
So on the name will mean nothing to you but to me it is the name of my great, great, great Grandma and 205 years ago this week she married my great, great, great Grandad. But first some background.
Sarah Tinker was born around 1796 in either Horstead or Worstead in Norfolk. Little is known about her until she married William Weeds on the 18th May 1815 at St Michael’s at Plea in Norwich, Norfolk. She was listed as a single woman and William was a widower. His first wife Mary had died the previous October.
Sarah moved to the village of Thorpe St Andrew, Norfolk with William where they raised their family. William worked as a baker and carpenter and Sarah ran the home and raised their 7 children and possibly the 2 surviving children from William’s first marriage.
There children were as follows:
Frederick Weeds 1817-1856 who married Harriett Todd and had 3 children.
Amelia Weeds 1819-1894 who married James Copsey and had 3 children.
Emma Weeds 1821 to 1895 who married William Mace and had 8 children.
Edward Weeds 1823 to 1870 who married Mary Charlotte Voyce and had 7 children.
Louisa Morgan Weeds 1826 to 1902 who married Ebenezer Richard Glanville and had 4 children and then William Martin Hingle and had one daughter.
Julia Weeds who was born in 1828 and married William White.
Jesse Weeds 1831 to 1915 who married Samuel George Miles and had 2 children.
In 1841 Sarah and William were living on Turnpike Road in Thorpe St Andrew and William was a baker. 5 of their children were still living at home with them.
On the 19th February 1848 William died. He was 61 years old and had been working as a carpenter. He died of inflammation of the lungs. This left Sarah a widow in her early 50’s. She never remarried.
In 1851 Sarah and her daughter Mary A (I think this was Jesse but I’m not sure) were still living in Thorpe St Andrew. They were shopkeepers living on Thorpe Row. By 1861 Sarah was living in Norwich with her daughter Julia. Sarah no longer worked but Julia was a shoe binder. The next we hear of Sarah is in 1881 when she was living with her daughter Jesse, her son in law Samuel and granddaughter Jesse in Coltishall in Norfolk. By now Sarah was 89 years old.
Sarah lived for another 10 years. She died on the 20th August 1890 in Coltishall aged 99. Her cause of death was given as senile decay. When you consider the average life expectancy when Sarah was born was around 40 years old she didn’t do too bad. It would really have annoyed me not to get to 100!
So again from a family historian’s point of view consider how much her life changed and the world around her. What did she see during her lifetime. Yes she may possibly have stayed in Norfolk all her life but she did travel in the county. She started in Worstead/Horstead and moved to Norwich about 25 miles away. What prompted the move I don’t know? She then went to Thorpe St Andrew which was around 3 miles away from Norwich where she moved into the large family that was the Weeds family, her husband William was 1 of 10. Presumably she was away from her family. She may have helped raise her step children as I have no idea what happened to the 2 surviving children from William’s first marriage. She was a grandmother to 28 grandchildren and a great grandmother to 27 in her lifetime with more born after she died.
So why not have a look through your ancestors and find out who lived the longest of them all.
So as those who read my blog know I’m a big fan of the history of the monarch and especially the Tudors. As you know Henry VIII was a big fan of wedding cake, well he must have been since he married 6 times! We all know about his wives, but who were his mother’s in law?
Infanta Catalina of Aragon’s mother was Queen Isabella of Castile and Leon, Queen consort of Aragon, Majorca, Sardinia, Sicily and Naples as well as Countess of Barcelona. She was born in 1451 in Madrigal de les Torres in Castile to King John II of Castile and Isabella of Portugal. Isabella became the second in line to throne of Castile after her father died when she was 4. After her younger brother’s death she became the heir. When she was 18 she married Ferdinand of Aragon the son of King John II of Aragon who later became King Ferdinand II of Aragon. Isabella succeeded her brother Henry in 1474 as Queen of Castile and Leon. The couple had 7 children, 1 was a miscarriage and another was still born. Their surviving children were Isabella 1470-1498 who became Queen consort of Portugal, John 1478-1497, Joanna 1479-1555 who was Queen of Castile in her own right, Maria 1482-1517 who was Queen consort of Portugal (she married her sister Isabella’s husband after she died) and Catherine (Catalina) 1485-1536 who married Prince Arthur of England and then his brother King Henry VIII.
Isabella and Ferdinand and known as the Catholic Monarchs and it was during their reign that the infamous Spanish Inquisition started. If you weren’t a good Catholic you were a heretic and could be burned at the stake. They also funded Christopher Columbus’ voyage to the Indies, he ended up in the America’s but hey we all make mistakes with directions. This lead to the great Spanish influence throughout the America’s and the Caribbean.
Isabella died at the Medina del Campo Royal Palace in Castile-Leon in 1504 after a steady decline in her health following the deaths of her family members. Her tomb is in the Capilla Real in Granada.
Lady Anne Boleyn was the daughter of Lady Elizabeth Boleyn nee Howard. Elizabeth Howard was born around 1480 and was the daughter of Thomas Howard the 2nd Duke of Norfolk and his wife Elizabeth Tilney. Lady Elizabeth was a lady in Waiting to Queen Consort Elizabeth of York and later Queen Consort Catherine of Aragon. Around 1500 Elizabeth married Thomas Boleyn who later became the Earl of Ormond and Wiltshire making her the Countess of Ormond and Wiltshire. The couple had 3 children. Mary c1499 -1543, Anne c1500-1536 and George c1503 to 1536. Elizabeth became the Queens mother in 1533 following Anne’s marriage to Henry VIII. Her tenure was short though, as was Anne’s. Following Anne and George’s fall from grace Elizabeth fought hard to save them but not even her father the Duke of Norfolk could save them from death. After the executions had taken place Elizabeth left London and died in 1538. She is buried in St Mary’s Church in Lambeth.
Jane Seymour was the daughter of Margery Wentworth and Sir John Seymour. Jane's mother Margery was born around 1478 and spent time in the household of her Aunt the Countess of Surrey. She married Sir John Seymour a courtier and solider of King Henry VII in 1494. Together the couple had 10 children. John c 1500-1510. Edward c1500-1522 who became the Duke of Somerset and Lord Protector during the reign of King Edward VI. Henry 1503-1578. Thomas c1508-1549 who was an admiral and became 1st Baron Seymour of Sudeley and married Henry VIII widow Catherine Parr. John and Anthony who died young. Jane c1509-1537 who became Queen Consort of King Henry VIII. Margery who died around 1528. Elizabeth c1518-1568 and Dorothy. After Sir John died in 1536 Margery did not remarry. She died in 1550 having seen her daughter provide the much longed for male heir for King Henry VIII, her eldest son become Lord Protector of England and Wales for her Grandson King Edward VI and another son executed for treason.
So as you can see the mothers of the Queens consorts can be just as interesting as the daughters. The next 3 Mother’s in Law will be looked at in the future in Henry VIII’s Mother’s in Law part 2.
So in the past I’ve introduced you to my home city of Sheffield and this week I was wondering what had changed in the city that my ancestors would have known and that was no longer there or been adapted.
So the biggest change is in industry. Sheffield was synonymous with steel production, blade making and the cutlery industry. So much of this has now gone. Don’t get me wrong it does still take place in the city but not on the scale it did. When you went through the census returns the men were working in the steel mills, as blade forgers, blade grinders or making cutlery or even scissors. Even the women were working in the industry. So many of them worked as buffer girls which were the women who polished up the cutlers once it was made so it was ready for sale.
I was also thinking about the way the building in the city centre have changed. In my life time building have come and gone. I miss the Town Hall extension which was lovingly names the egg boxes. So what big changes have there been?
So one change my ancestor may notice happened to the City Hall. This is a massive performance venue in the city that hosts concerts, plays and so much more. It was completed in the 1930’s. Now during the WW2 a bomb exploded in the square outside the hall. If you visit look at the pillars that were once pristine but now they have shrapnel wounds in them. I always find it fitting that the war memorial for the city stands in the square where the bomb fell.
Another massive change would be to the churches in the city. The Cathedral had an extension in the 1960’s and it’s off the period. It’s so different from the medieval church building. It’s a very marmite addition (you either love it or you hate it). Another big change would be that St Paul’s church next to the Town Hall is no longer there. It was built in the early 1700’s as the other churches couldn’t cope with the growing population. By 1937 the church had virtually no congregation so it shut and was pulled down. My ancestors may even has gone there as some lived locally to it.
In 1905 King Edward VII and Queen Alexander opened Firth Court at the University of Sheffield. It is a grand building and my ancestors certainly would have known the building as again some lived in the area. By 1971 it had a new building next to it which was designed in the 1960’s. It was built using the same coloured bricks but the styles were completely different.
Now I know this is a minor change but it’s a change no the less. In Sheffield next to the Town Hall is a police box. It was installed in 1928 and is still there and it’s even a listed building. The change is that it now says South Yorkshire Police on it instead of just Sheffield Police as it was when it was built. South Yorkshire didn’t exist until 1974 when it was formed from the West Riding of Yorkshire. So in a way another that’s another change. The city didn’t move but it moved county.
There will be so many things throughout the City that have changed since my ancestors were around. The fact I’m even calling it a city is different as from 1297 to 1893 it was a town. So why not think about what has changed in your area that you ancestors would have known.
So things are strange at the moment to say the least. Parents are trying to work full time and teach the kids. So Why not use technology and family to bring the kids closer to their ancestry. Family has a wealth of information in it that is vital to our family history. So kids ask you grandparents etc the questions now and write it down and it can work as a boredom buster for both young and old.
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.
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 make a 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 make genealogy a fun thing that may spark a lifelong passion and if nothing else give the kids a project for a few hours.
On the 24th April 1888 my Great, Great Grandparents suffered the loss of their daughter Laura. So how did they let people know?
First some background.
Laura Dent was born around April 1880 in Wisbech, Cambridgeshire. She was the 9th child of 11 born to William Thomas Dent and his wife Louisa Dent nee Payling. William was a farrier and also ran the Red Lion Inn on North Brink alongside Louisa. In total the couple had 3 sons and 8 daughters born between 1864 and 1884. They were Louisa 1864-1940, William 1865-1945, Marion 1867-1937, Richard 1870-1877, Jane Ann 1871-1943, Ella 1873-1959, Maud Mary 1875-1876, my great Grandma Eva 1878-1918, Laura 1880-1885, Myra 1882-1966 and George 1884-1887.
The family had already know tragedy as in 1877 they had lost their son Richard aged 7 and their daughter Maud Mary in 1876 who was under 1 when she died. Loosing Laura would have been heart breaking for the family. She was just short of her 5th birthday. Laura was buried in St Peter’s churchyard on the 26th April 1888 alongside her siblings.
Laura’s parents announced her death in the Cambridge Independent Press on the 02 May 1885 but by now she had been buried. Her family had a funeral card produced to inform family and friends of her passing.
These would have been sent to members of the family who may not have been able to travel to the funeral. Louisa, Laura’s mother was from Long Sutton in Lincolnshire which although only 10 miles away may have meant members of her family may not have been able to travel to the funeral. The card would have given them a memento to remember little Laura with.
Now Laura’s card was typical of the time. Most cards were on heavy card and embossed with a grave and a boarder. On the grave was the information of the deceased along with some uplifting words or phrases intended to offer solace to the recipient.
As time went on and printing techniques evolved the cards became more elaborate. They would include a picture of the deceased and may have gold lettering on black card rather than white card with black lettering. As with everything the more elaborate to the card the more expensive they were.
As time went on the cards evolved into folded cards with more information on and became more of an order of service for the funeral along the lines of what some people have today.
So what use are the funeral cards to genealogy. Well to start with they are a great insight into social history. They give an indication into the times your ancestors lived in. The more plain the card the earlier they are.
In terms of for genealogy they give an insight into the financial situation of the family. A poor family would never have been able to afford to spend money on funeral cards. So if you have a funeral card in the family the deceased family must have had some wealth. Then the card itself can indicate the level of wealth. The better the card, the more it costs so the more wealth they had.
I know William and Louisa Dent had 2 businesses with the farrier shop and the pub around the time Laura died and that this continued as they also had cards made 2 years later when their son George died. There is no card for the death of William Dent in 1900 but in 1911 when Louisa died she had a folded card to announce her death and burial. Also other family evidence indicates they were better off as in photographs I have of Laura’s sisters in the early 1900 they were well dressed and in a nice garden setting.
So it may be just a small card announcing the death of a little girl but the information beyond what is found on the card can give you an insight into the family’s situation.
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!