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I really ought to know more of my cousins

20 Oct

It was Randy Seaver’s Saturday Night Genealogy Fun A Family’s Increase that got me thinking about my cousins, and the fact that I haven’t really been actively trying to find any.

I think I know all my first cousins and although I don’t have their details on my family tree I could add them in pretty quickly, but beyond first cousins that is pretty much it. I have had contact with more distant cousins, but in most case it was them getting in touch with me, rather than the other way around. Perhaps it is time I did something about it.

Looking at my great grandparents it seems to be a case all or nothing. Two of my grandparents were only children (although one did have three half-siblings). A third grandparent was one of only two children.

My fourth grandparent is where things swing the other way, he was one of sixteen children. I know at least one died as an infant, but that still leaves a lot and great aunts and uncles and potentially lots of second cousins to identify.

I think once I have found all my 4x great grandparents and completed my Christmas Tree Project, I will focus on tracing some living descendants of my great grandparents.

Wanted: Naked Genealogists

30 Sep

I thought that would get your attention, but first let me make this clear from the start this is purely hypothetical, I am not asking for photos of naked genealogists, honest.

Last night I happened to see part of How To Look Good Naked on Channel 4, the presenter Gok Wan was trying to get people to join his Naked Army and have a photo taken of their group of friends or colleagues naked, in the style of The Calendar Girls. So basically people doing everyday things or taking part in their hobbies, with carefully placed items covering any private bits. There are a few examples on the How To Look Good Naked website. It doesn’t matter how old you are, what size or shape you are, or even what sex you are, just so long as you are prepared to show you are not ashamed of your body as it is.

This got me thinking, what if it was a calendar of genealogists? or geneabloggers?

Would you be prepared to do it? If so, how would you like to be photographed? Where would you be (provided you could get permission), what would you be doing? and what props would you use? Don’t worry I am not going to ask you to prove it (I have far too much to do already to organise a photo shoot and publish a calendar).

For my own part I know my body is not perfect, but I think it would be such fun to take part. I can see myself in a record office leaning over a large table, examining the detail of an early map with a magnifying glass.

Come on don’t be shy, let us know whether you would be brave enough to bare all!

The history of genealogy websites

7 Jul

One of the items in my “crate of shame” was a copy of The Genealogist’s Internet by Peter Christian. I have the first and third editions of this book, partly for the reference material they contain, but mainly for the nostalgia element.

It is not really surprising that genealogy sites have changed so much over recent years, but it seems inconceivable that in the first edition (published in 2001) the website was said to hold “over 2,000 separate datasets” but that the “majority of these are of interest only to those with US ancestry …. there are a number which may be useful to UK genealogists”. How times have changed.

Of course if you are interested in looking at internet history then a trip in the Wayback Machine is essential. Whilst you should not expect much functionality from them, it is still interesting to have a look at some of the changing home pages from sites like, where for example in June 2002 you could “unlock the Records to your Past for as little as £29.95”.

Whilst you are time travelling you could stop in on the infamous 1901 census launch, and re-live the frustrations of the early days of the site, when access was restricted or non-existent. Check out the archives for the beginning of 2002 to see what access to online census records used to be like!

Does anyone know if anyone is recording the history of genealogical websites? Is it only me who is interested in this sort of thing? Perhaps someone would like to create a family tree of genealogy websites, after all now has many offspring!

Unpacking the “crate of shame”

4 Jul

I finally got around to sorting out the “crate of shame” today. It was quite interesting, a lot of the stuff I had forgotten about, a couple of bits didn’t have anything to do with genealogy and much of it should have been thrown away ages ago.

To embarrass myself into not getting into such an organisationally challenged state again I am going to list some of the stuff that ended up in the “crate of shame”.

Brighton and Hove Buses On Route magazine (Issue 25, Summer 2009) – I picked this up to read on the bus from Brighton to Uckfield when I was on my way to Framfield and Blackboys, back on the 9th May 2009. There were a few interesting article, but should have been recycled months ago.

Brighton and Hove Buses Bus Times (Summer 2009) – Still in date, last used back in May planning my trip to Framfield. Need to keep this with my other bus and train timetables for future trips.

A4 narrow ruled refill pad – A refill pad, quite useful you would think, but this one has only one empty page left in it, so not really practical to take it to a record office, but I should have found a use for the last page and thrown the front and back covers away.

Ancestors magazine (June 2009 issue) – There are some interesting articles on researching pubs and their staff in this issue, but I don’t have the space to keep back issues of every magazine I read (as much as I would like to), so another one for the recycling bin.

Rexel mobile organisation slim box – I bought this little box for just £1.00, the intention was to use it in my rucksack for carrying my research papers around, as it is a hard box and would offer more protection, however I never got around to using it.

Small pink A6 notebook – I have far too many little notebooks dotted around the place (I finally found one I was happy with), this one only has a few pages left so I think it can be binned now.

Slim cardboard ring binder with notes on George Thomas GASSON – Various extracts from asylum records and other material on mental health and asylum research. These need to be included with all my other stuff in my GASSON folder.

Individual narrative report for Beatrice STANDING – I see this single A4 page was printed on the 17th April 2009, when I was preparing for a trip to the West Sussex Record Office. I can always print it again when I go down there again.

Yellow paper bag with leaflets and brochures from the Family History Event – Various bits and pieces I picked up at the Family History event on the 3rd May 2009. I need to sort this lot out and see if there is anything I need to keep, otherwise bin it.

Leaflet on Kempton Great Engines – I picked this leaflet up somewhere, I think it might have been at the London Family History Centre. I think these industrial buildings and engines are amazing, this is a former water works that I would love to go and visit. I have bookmarked their website, so I can get rid of the leaflet.

Various papers relating to the HEMSLEYs and Gun Farm, Blackboys – Print out of sale particulars for Gun Farm, print out of bus and train timetables, an ancestor outline for Annie HEMSLEY. The timetables can be thrown, but the other papers can be filed in the HEMSLEY folder.

Empty foolscap Snopake Polyfile – This was too big to fit in my rucksack, but it is great for keeping research papers together. I will store it will all my other filing stuff.

A4 Snopake Polyfile Ringbinder Wallet – These are great wallets, a bit too expensive, which is why I don’t have many. These one has an individual summary report for Abraham Graham KINGHORN and one for Isabella GRAHAM. The report can be binned now, I took it to Brighton History Centre when I was searching newspapers.

Plastic A4 ringbinder with my Thomas KINGHORN research project – Various papers and maps relating to Thomas KINGHORN and his family and the places they lived in London. This is one of my active projects, so this needs to be kept with my other surname folders.

Copies of emails and receipts relating to the purchase of the Family Historian upgrade – I bought this upgrade online at the beginning of May 2009, the email contains the licence key, so I need to keep this safe with all the original CDs.

Plastic punched pocket with GEERING research papers – Simple to deal with this bundle of papers (census papers and various reports), these belong in a surname file, but I don’t have a GEERING folder, so they will have to go in the next best, the GASSON folder.

Two A4 prints of my family tree – A couple of family trees, the text is not readable but it was meant to see how the tree was looking. They are out of date now so they can be binned.

Stand To! The Journal of the Western Front Association (April/May 2009) – I’ve been a member of the Western Front Association for a couple of years now, I have just finished reading the latest edition, but I think I barely looked at this one. I will move this to the top of my to be read pile.

Rexel A4+ Carry Zip Bag with various papers – The zip bag is falling apart, and most of the papers are reports from Family Historian which could be reprinted if needed, so most of this can be binned.

Photocopies from The Memoirs of Gaius Carley A Sussex Blacksmith – This mentions the HEMSLEY family in Blackboys. Filed in the HEMSLEY surname folder.

A4 Snopake Polyfile Ringbinder Wallet with my MITCHELL research papers – This project is still active so I just need to keep this one with my other surname folder, or on top of the computer desk.

Two sets of 10-part file dividers – These were supposed to be going into my surname folders, but I haven’t got around to it yet.

Blue clip-file with another set of notes on George Thomas GASSON – Another set of notes that need to be checked for duplication and filed in the GASSON surname folder.

A bundle of papers from my 3x great grandparents challenge – I have a variety of reports from Family Historian and some census images from when I spent the weekend trying to find all my 3x great grandparents. Most of these can be binned now, but I need to make sure they are all included in my tree before I get rid of them. I might keep one or two prints in the relevant surname folder.

Marriage certificate for William GEERING and Emily GREEN and a descendant outline report for Joseph TEMPLEMAN – Another set of documents from the 3x great grandparents challenge, need to make sure I have scanned the certificate before I file it. Will probably file the report as well.

The Genealogist’s Internet (3rd expanded edition) by Peter Christian – Bought from my local Oxfam bookshop, and already out of date, but I bought it to go with the 1st edition already on my shelf. A genealogy time capsule, great to look back at the screenshots of some of the old genealogy sites.

The Religious Census of Sussex 1851 and West Sussex Land Tax 1785 both published by the Sussex Record Society – Two bargain buys from the SFHG conference back in March 2009. Need to find shelf space for them as well.

Digital Photography for Dummies (All-in-one desk reference) – An ex-library book, and a real bargain at just one pound. I was going to read it then give it to charity, but I have yet to start reading. Probably doesn’t need a space on the shelf, I just need to get around to reading it.

Lucky Man a memoir by Michael J Fox – Another charity shop find, I have been wanting to read this for ages, but now I have it I need to find time to read it. I will probably go back to a charity shop when I have finished.

British Civil Registration (2nd Edition) by Tom Wood published by the FFHS – Another bargain from the SFHG conference, I love the fact that on the spine the word civil is spelt civel oops! This is one for the book shelf, to be kept as reference material.

Biggles The Authorized Biography by John Pearson – Another Oxfam Bookshop purchase. I love reading Biggles, although I still have many of his stories to read, never read them as a child, only once I grew up! Definitely keeping this one.

London A Social History by Roy Porter – This is yet another Oxfam Bookshop purchase, started reading but haven’t got very far, this will probably go on holiday with me (and Biggles?). This was meant to be some background reading for my London KINGHORN research.

and finally, right at the very bottom of the crate….

One white plastic coated paperclip and one small safety pin – not really sure how these got in there, but they might come in handy some day.

I can’t believe just how much stuff there was in that crate, no wonder I have been putting off sorting it out. At least it is done now, and I can put the crate away again, until my next organising emergency!

Can I survive a week without family history?

15 Jun

In few weeks my wife and I will be on a weeks holiday in South Devon, England and my biggest worry is not whether the weather will stay fine, but whether I can survive a week away from my genealogy, without becoming unbearable.

I have no research to do in the Devon Record Office, as far as I know I have no Devon ancestors, I have no laptop (although I could probably find an internet connected PC, but that wouldn’t go down too well) and I certainly won’t have space to pack my family history files, so for the whole week I shall be genealogy free.

Hardly an hour goes by without me thinking about some aspect of my family history, let alone spending a whole day away from my genealogy. A whole week away from it is unimaginable.

I shall probably take a genealogy history book with me to read, and I am sure I can find other books and magazines in an emergency. Perhaps, if things get really bad I could sneak off to a graveyard or cemetery and record some monumental inscriptions, just to satisfy my cravings!

I am hopeful that we will be able to indulge my passion for walking, and that will keep my mind off family history. Hopefully my wife and I can enjoy some of the South West Coast Path together.

Orchid spotting on the walk home

12 Jun

I discovered these beautiful little flowers in a field on my walk home from work this evening. They were the highlight of a mostly dull walk home, the sun did appear for the last couple of miles but apart from that it was cloudy and grey (but thankfully dry).

Anyone know what type of flowers these are?

Are these common spotted-orchids?

I believe they are common spotted-orchids (Dactylorhiza fuchsii) but would appreciate it if someone could confirm that.

Just my luck!

21 May

Now I’m not normally superstitious, but I think I might be buying a lottery ticket this week after discovering these two five-leaf clovers on the piece of waste ground just outside our front door.

2x five leaf clover

Not only were there these two, but on closer inspection there were another two, and at least eight or nine four-leaf examples as well. I have found four-leaf ones there before, but I think this is the first time I have ever seen a five-leaf example, let alone four of them!

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