January 2011

You are currently browsing the monthly archive for January 2011.

Today is the first anniversary of my blog. This year I have met other bloggers at conferences and had the opportunity to connect with my readers through their comments. I have even found a few new cousins in the process. Writing The Passionate Genealogist has been fun and I am looking forward to another year of learning new things and meeting new people. If there is a topic you would like me to examine let me know.

©2011 – Blair Archival Research

In my blog entry on penmanship the video link mentioned how handwriting analysis had become very popular in the late 1800s and early 1900s. I have a handwriting analysis for my Great Grand Aunt Edith Toppin.

Unfortunately it is not dated but Edith Toppin was born in 1874 and died in 1946 so if she was over twenty one at the time then it would be after 1895.

What I have is the form that “The World-Famed Graphologist” “Miss Wagner, Co. Cork, Ireland” filled in with the analysis. The form has a section down the side with “Press & Public Opinions” which includes one from Montreal and other parts around the globe. There is a list of “Bazaars and Fetes” where she will be appearing and magazines where I am presuming she was mentioned.

The fees for this service were 1/- (one shilling), 2/6 (two shillings six pence) and 5/- (five shillings). No explanation of what you get for each of those fees was mentioned. Edith provided Miss Wagner with a handwriting sample and signature. What the sample was and how she signed her name are not included. Here is the transcription of the deduced characteristics of Edith from her handwriting.

You are cheerful, persuasive, agreeable, affable & pleasing in friendly & social relationships Mental & philosophical sides of life appeal to you – Tastes are refined you are hopeful courteous, bright & impressionable – Intuitive in grasp of people – character & situations – skilful in managing – avoiding irritating – & getting on well with many met. Good sense of humour wit – fun & playfulness A merry heart – tolerance of what must be put up with or tactfully ignored for peace sake at times

Good sense – brains intelligence management – expenditure & results pleasing effects – with when required fairly thrifty outlay

A wish for harmony – proportion fitness – suitability & becomingness critical acumen – ideals & ideas good writers, musicians – artists – teachers & accountants – you can appreciate points in many ways, good domestic traits – the finely organised & artistic temperament – that helps to make a tasteful happy home.

Fidelity in life’s closets ties & relationships an uncongenial alliance would be fraught with serious & hurtful results for you you should be successful in making friends & way in the world – kind to pets & children your lucky gem is the turquoise bringing prosper

Your colours are gold & brown – typical of personal aspiration & pleasure in many things in daily life & existence – In some ways ease pleasure & loving – with as well tenacity that adds persistence & slight obstinacy in sooner or later arriving at intentions & purposes

Your flower is the holly bringing the seasons happiness – you should be accurate in aim & execution – enterprise & calculations

Ingenious in striking out ways & means a fix in & helpful in suggestions & ready assistance Quick & sharp in perceptions, inferences & diagnosis if the topic puzzling dilemma tc

[Some] love of being comfortable – Ready ability to imitate & reproduce what you admire – This should give you correct taste in household – personal & feminine matters – consulted in – [Frank] – believing in freedom of speech – Quick to [nite] weakest point in others armour – over activity – worry or restlessness would be injurious to health – Fresh air out of door life exercise in moderate degree are good

Some of these items sound like they would be expected of any female of the time. I wish I knew Edith to see if any of these traits were true and what she was really like.

©2011 – Blair Archival Research

The England Jurisdictions 1851 Map at Family Search is an invaluable tool for those doing research in England.

First you see a map with all the counties of England highlighted in colours. Click on your county of choice. I chose Cheshire. You then get a list of options such as: List all parishes in Cheshire, list all counties contiguous to Cheshire, search the Family History Library Catalog, search the FamilySearch Research Wiki and the option to remove selection.

If you click on list all parishes you get an alphabetical listing of the parishes in Cheshire. I decided to click Stalybridge, St. Paul, Cheshire. The map then hones in on Stalybridge and highlights the parish. There are three tabs: Info, Jurisdictions and Options.

Info tells me that it is an “Ecclesiastical Parish in the county of Cheshire, created in 1840 from Mottram in Longendale Ancient Parish” I also get the years when records began. The parish register [PR] began in 1839 and the bishops transcripts [BT] began in 1782. If you scroll down further you find a listing of the Non-Church of England denominations in Stalybridge.

Jurisdictions tells me the place, county, civil registration district, probate court along with dates and names of the courts, diocese, rural deanery, poor law union, hundred and province. This information will help with further research.

The Options tab provides five choices: list contiguous parishes, radius search, search the Family History Library Catalog, Search the FamilySearch Research Wiki and remove selection.

The radius search is another great tool. You can do a radius search of Stalybridge for ¼, ½, 1, 3, 5, 10 and 15 miles. I chose a five mile radius. The map now provides a red circle with the highlighted parish of Stalybridge in the centre with a cross marking the centre of the circle. On the left hand side of the page is a list of parishes within a five mile radius of Stalybridge. It gives you the distance of these parishes from Stalybridge. If you click on the name of another parish the map will move to that parish and provide information relating to it.

If you click on the centre of the red circle you get more options: move radius, search here, add another radius search of – miles, remove radius search.

On the left hand side is a tab called layers and you can add extra layers to the map. You already have parish (Chapelry and Extra Parochial) and county but you can add civil registration district, diocese, rural deanery, poor law union, hundred, province, division and ordnance survey. You can also decide to change the map to a Google Street Map or a Google Satellite map.

In the top right corner you have three options: zoom to selection, reset view and reset map. You can zoom into the map to get closer to the parish. This is really useful when you have Ordnance Survey map as the choice. It will only let you zoom in so far which means you can not get down to street level. To get to street level use the map navigation bars and zoom options on the left hand side of the map. The red background of the Ordnance Survey map does make it a little difficult to read the black lettering on the map. The purple highlight over the parish makes it even more difficult again to read the names and markings on the map.

You have the choice to link or print and save the map. There is a feedback option to help Family Search gather our comments on their products. The last option is a question mark for help.

When you click on search Family History Library Catalog it will show you if there are any records available in the library for that parish.

This is a great tool for any family historian researching in England. It provides information on available church records in England. I have family in Stalybridge but they are not always found in the records. This provides me with information on surrounding parishes and those parishes that are not Church of England but another denomination.

Why not go in and play with this map and see what new information you may be able to find about the area in England where your family originated.

The National Archives of England have a database called A2A or Access to Archives. It is part of the UK archives network. The database is made up of catalogues which describe what is in many local archives across England and Wales. The records go from the eighth century to modern day.

The information comes from local record offices, libraries, universities, museums and national and specialist institutions across England and Wales but it is not all inclusive.

No new information being added to the database but that does not diminish its importance.

When you click on a reference found in A2A you will find a link to the repository holding the original documentation. This link will provide you with the information needed to contact them and what you need to know if you decide to go there to view the documents.

The amount of detail found in the descriptions depends on the originating facility. If you want to find more information on the catalogue entry then contact the relevant repository.

You can not view any images on A2A but you can contact the repository to see if a copy can be made of the document and what the reproduction fee would be.

I have used this database many times. Once I found a record and when I contacted the repository they told me that all the family detail was in the description on A2A and that the record would not be able to be copied because of preservation reasons. Still I was able to get the family details from the document.

Once I found a real gem, a letter from an ancestor requesting a person of nobility’s support in obtaining a post at Dublin Castle. This and other information in the letter was fantastic not to mention the letter was written by my ancestor in 1767. As a result I have his signature and a sample of his handwriting which is something rarely found for that time period.

When searching A2A you may find something in Derbyshire that seems to relate to your family but they lived in London. Remember that family papers and other items were not always placed in a repository near where they lived. They may have had dealings with someone whose home was in another county so therefore their papers were placed in that family’s home county archives or local record office.

Keep an open mind and follow up every lead.

©2011 – Blair Archival Research

Supporting the family history societies in the areas where my family originated has been important to me. As a result I am a member of the Manchester & Lancashire Family History Society, Glasgow and West of Scotland Family History Society and the Genealogical Society of Ireland. I also support the Ontario Genealogical Society including the Halton-Peel Branch and the Ireland Special Interest Group. There are no family connections to these areas I just feel it is important to support their activities for future generations.

Being a member of the societies in Ireland, England and Scotland has helped with my research. There is a journal that comes out every quarter or once a year filled with articles about current record releases, research stories, publication lists and sometimes there are indexes to some records that are small and relate to the area. You can find a synopsis of lectures given at the society. I have written articles for the GWSFHS and GSI journals and have found distant family members who are also members. By being in contact with these groups I keep up to date of what is available for those areas. If I have a question then the chances are that sending them an email may result in an answer.

Occasionally the records that would help me with my research are not available in any form on this side of the Atlantic. You can sometimes find local members of the society who are happy to help you with your research for a small fee and/or a reimbursement of expenses. Some societies offer a research service. If they can not help you they can recommend someone who can.

Lately I have been catching up with my reading and while reading The Manchester Genealogist the journal for the Manchester & Lancashire Family History Society I came across an article about the future of Clayton House where the society has been housed for about twenty years. I had the privilege to visit Clayton House in 2003 and while there I did some research, picked up a few interesting publications and got some advice.

The Society has been considering a move because the rent has become too much for the society and their membership has dropped by over one thousand in recent years. This is very sad news indeed.

Family history societies are the backbone of the genealogical community. The people who began and continue these groups have a true passion for family history research. They have spent countless hours transcribing, indexing, creating and typing many of the databases we take for granted today. The latter members have worked diligently in getting some these databases published and put online.

It can not be said enough that you will NOT find everything for your family history online. At some point you will have to go to the area where your family originated and the family history society for the area would be a true asset to your research. If you do not support them now they will not be there when you need them.

Another consideration is that not everyone is online and they could be members of these societies who read the journals. Are you missing out on finding someone who has a wealth of family history information relating to your family simply because you are only looking online for information?

The closure of family history societies due to lack of membership would be an enormous loss to the genealogical community. Please join your local family history society today and at least one in the homeland of your ancestors.

©2011 – Blair Archival Research

This holiday season the news was full of pictures and stories of stranded airline passengers because of the snow in Dublin and other parts of Europe.

In the Irish Independent newspaper there was an article on 30 December 2010 about the cold snap of 1740. There is a new book written by Trinity College Dublin history Professor David Dickson called “Arctic Ireland.” I have not read the book but am looking forward to getting a copy.

Hundreds of thousands of Irish died during “The Great Frost.” It brought the country and Europe to a standstill. They believe “The Great Frost” may have been the result of volcanic activity in Russia. The devastation began on 29 December 1739 and went into 1741.

To find out more you can read the article here.

©2011 – Blair Archival Research

The Archives of New Brunswick have added The New Brunswick Irish Portal to their website. The portal opens with an essay by Dr. Stewart Donovan of St. Thomas University. You can read it online or download versions in PDF and Word. The portal has exhibits and databases.

The databases include Saint John Almshouse Records; Brenan Funeral Home Records: Traces of Ireland; Fitzwilliam Estate Emigration Books 1847-1856; RS555 Provincial Secretary: Immigration Administration Records; Immigrant Letters; Newspapers; Passenger Lists; Teachers Petition Database and Irish Immigrants in the New Brunswick Census of 1851 and 1861.

The Saint John Almshouse Records has a name index. There are PDF files about the records and social welfare in New Brunswick from 1784 to 1900. The records are from the St. John [sic] City Almshouse Admission Registers from 1843-1897 and the Saint John Almshouse Admission Registers, 1843-1884. These records are for people who were admitted to the Alms and Work House, the Emigrant Infirmary, and the St. John Emigrant Orphan Asylum.

When you click on Name Index you come to the list for the letter A and can choose another letter from the alphabetical listing above. When you click on a surname of interest you get a transcription listing of the people found. The information includes a surname, given name, date of admission, age, condition (health), nativity (county/country of origin), vessel, religion, departure and landed.

When you click on details you get a more complete transcription, microfilm number and a digital image of the record in question which you can download.

The Brenan Funeral Home Records has a complete transcription of records from 1901-1960. Brenan’s dealt mainly with Protestant clients. The information found on the transcriptions is some basic information that can be found in a death record with the added bonus of finding other pertinent information.

Fitzwilliam Estate Emigration Books 1847-1856 this database consists of the 383 people that travelled on the sailing vessel called “The Star” to St. Andrew’s New Brunswick. The results are listed alphabetically and include name, age, townland, townland official, civil parish, year, ship, departure, arrival, and notes.

RS555 Provincial Secretary: Immigration Administration Records does not have a searchable database. There is a finding aid for the records and an essay on “New Brunswick as a Home for Immigrants” by Koral Lavorgna.

Immigrant Letters consists of several indexes: subject, place and collection as well as a full text search.

Newspapers have a subject and newspaper index and a full text search.

Passengers Lists describe the act to “regulate Vessels arriving from the United Kingdom with Passengers and Emigrants” and passenger statistics from 1816 to 1865. You will also find a vessel and name index.

The Teachers Petition Database is a searchable database with information on 509 petitions requesting a teaching license or payment for the teaching services that were provided from 1816 to 1858. These records relate to those who said their place of birth was Ireland.

The last section is Irish Immigrants in the New Brunswick Census of 1851 and 1861. Here you will find statistics, a name index and other indexes where you can search by county, religion, where from and year landed.

There is an exhibit called “In the Wake of Dark Passage Irish Famine Migration to New Brunswick.” More exhibits are coming.

This website is a great resource for those who have New Brunswick Irish connections. It is also a valuable resource to learn about the Irish immigrants and how they contributed to their new homeland.

©2011 – Blair Archival Research

The Historic Hospital Records database is the “home of 19th century children’s hospital records.” They provide historical background, academic resources and links to help with your research. A searchable database is also available. You can register for free and have access to more detailed information along with the ability to download and print the results of your searches.

The databases provide searchable Admission Registers for the following hospitals: Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children (London) 1852-1914, Cromwell House (London) 1869-1910, the Evelina (London) 1874-1877/1889-1902, Alexandra Hospital for Hip Disease (London) 1867-1895, Royal Hospital for Sick Children (Glasgow) 1883-1903.

You will find a section with general articles which includes an index. It provides background information on the subject of health and health care in Britain in the 19th century. Another useful tool is the Glossary of Medical Terms to help you understand the medical terms found in the records.

For those with connections to London and Glasgow it is well worth searching these databases to see if any children can be found in their records.

©2011 – Blair Archival Research

Today celebrations are going on throughout Scotland and the around world in honour of the 252nd birthday of Robbie Burns.

Robbie Burns is known as “Scotland’s favourite son” and “The Bard.” He is Scotland’s favourite poet and wrote in the Scots language. It is on this day that we have a wee dram, a piece of haggis and remember Robbie Burns. The most repeated Robbie Burns poem today is the “Address to a Haggis” which you can find here in both the original form and a translation.

I remember going to the local British shop and buying a haggis for my Grandmother. She loved it and they had small ones in a freezer. You can now buy haggis in a can and with different flavours such as curry. There is no problem if you do not eat meat because there is a vegetarian version. I wonder what Robbie Burns would think of that turn of events.

Haggis was peasant food in Scotland. The wealthy got the best parts of the beast and the rest went to those who could not afford anything more. They got creative by making a filling and nutritious meal to feed their families.

Haggis contains oatmeal, mutton suet, lamb or venison liver, sheep heart, liver and kidney, an onion and some spices. These are all minced and put together in a sausage casing then boiled 4-5 hours.

Traditionally Haggis is served with tatties and neeps (potatoes and turnips) and a shot of whiskey.

Happy Burns Day everyone!

©2011 – Blair Archival Research

You can now register for the 2011 Ontario Genealogical Society conference to be held in Hamilton Ontario from May 13th to May 16th. You can find out more about it here. I will be presenting three lectures during the conference. “The Whys and Wherefores of Scottish Emigration,” “Maiden Aunts of the 20th Century – The Forgotten Generation of Women” and “A Brick Wall Chisel – The Cluster Research Project.”

©2011 – Blair Archival Research

« Older entries