Politically it has been an interesting couple of weeks in the United Kingdom, but now a new government has been formed and things are starting to settle down The National Archives have started talking to us again.
Once the election had been announced The National Archives were obliged to restrict what they said, because they are a government department. Now the new government has been formed, normal service has been resumed.
One of their first announcements was about the appointment of Kenneth Clarke QC MP as Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice, effectively putting him in charge of The National Archives.
The next few years are going to be difficult financially, and I am sure we haven’t seen the last of the cost cutting already seen at The National Archives in recent months (e.g. closing on Mondays).
I am sure over the next few months (even years) there are going to have to be some unpopular decisions made that will affect us as family historians. However, like the two political parties now working together in coalition, we are going to have to make some compromises.
In the meantime, it is good to have The National Archives back talking to us, it has really been rather quiet without them.
Those of you outside of the UK may not have noticed, but if you live in the UK you cannot have failed to notice the fact that election fever has gripped the media (maybe not the entire country yet, just the media) who won’t let us forget that there is a General Election on the 6th May.
As well as borrowing the idea of a leadership debate from the USA, we also seem to have acquired an interest in the ancestry of the three main candidates. I remember seeing many mentions of the ancestry of Barack Obama during his campaign and election. His family even has it’s own page on Wikipedia.
Attention has now turned to the ancestors of Gordon Brown, David Cameron and Nick Clegg. I mentioned yesterday that there was an article about the ancestors of the three candidates in the first edition of the new Your Family History magazine.
The May 2010 edition of Family History Monthly has an article on the ancestry of David Cameron, and I am sure I have seen a similar treatment of Gordon Brown’s ancestors in another magazine, but don’t remember seeing Nick Clegg receiving the same treatment, after all no-one had heard of him until last week!
Findmypast.co.uk have researched the ancestors of the three leaders (illustrated with some census images), highlighting some of the similarities and pointing out some of the interesting characters in their family trees.
One of these characters was Baroness Moura Budberg (Nick Clegg’s 2x great aunt) who also gets a mention on the Time Archive Blog today, with a wonderful quote from her obituary, "she could drink any sailor under the table without batting an eyelid."
I don’t know how it happened. Yesterday I barely touched my family history and this evening I haven’t even opened my copy of Family Historian or my family history folders.
Am I suffering from genealogy burn out?
Last night I found myself idly flicking through my files, clicking on individuals in Family Historian, almost at random. I could see plenty of work to be done, and I did add a few details, but I just couldn’t summon up the enthusiasm to actually do any serious work. Even the GEERING family have lost their appeal.
Tonight was even worse, I didn’t even make the effort to do any research. Now I am starting to feel guilty, perhaps I should stay up late and force myself to do some research or some organising, but it is getting late and I should be going to bed.
It wasn’t that there was anything else that was more interesting to divert my attention today (it’s only an election after all!). I did listen to an interesting programme on BBC Radio 4, Between Ourselves which was about the life and work of two Coroners, which in a way was family history related, although in a modern context.
I don’t think I could live with myself if I didn’t do some research tomorrow, so I think I will have to chain myself to the computer and force myself to climb back up my tree and start swinging through the branches until someone catches my eye. Hang on, I think I can hear my ancestors calling now…
It has been a while since I spent any time on Google Books and I was pleasantly surprised to find out how much it had grown over the last few years and how useful it could be to my research.
I was surprised to find that Google Book now included amongst the collection a selection of eighteenth and nineteenth century poll books for the county of Sussex.
Poll books are basically lists of people entitled vote in various different elections. They differ from later electoral rolls (or registers) in that they also tell you who the person actually voted for, something unimaginable these days.
Eligibility to vote was mainly down to property ownership (but varied from time and place) so many of the lists are quite short, but even I have found some my farming relations among the list of voter’s names.
So far I have found the following poll books for Sussex:
There may be more of course because they don’t all have "poll book" in the title, and I haven’t had time to see what the coverage of other counties is like.
I am definitely going to have to spend some more time on Google Books and see what other Sussex resources and general background material I can find.