It’s the time of year when all the towns and villages start hosting their village shows. There’ll 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.
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.
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!