Genealogy During COVID

Created September 2020 using Wordclouds.com

Like the rest of the world, I was at home during lock down, the furthest I went for 4 months was the end of the drive or the garden, so I had plenty of time to ponder and look at my genealogy. I even managed to whizz the vacuum cleaner round every now and again 🙂

Having made a mess of the marriage spreadsheet (and back-up) for England and Wales for my BUTCHER one-name study, I needed to spend about 20 hours fixing it. (Though as I typed this, I put years instead of hours, which is probably more accurate! 🙂 ). This was added to the list.

The next thing I wanted to get done was to do a data extraction from the catalogue of the Records Office for those counties in the south east in England – Sussex, Surrey, Hampshire, and Kent, before moving onto other regions. The reason I started in this region was because my own Butcher family came from Surrey and Sussex, so with the material that I already had, I wanted to retrace my steps and see what I had and what I needed to obtain.

Sussex is a large county and has two records offices, West Sussex Records Office and East Sussex Records Office. The records office that is the most likely to hold material relating to my own family is the West Sussex records office and that is where I started my quest. I actually spent the entire lock down working on West Sussex material, the reason for which is two fold, firstly the catalogue system they use is called Calm and the descriptions they provided for each document is excellent.

In some cases, with material from their catalogue and my existing research I was able to build a substantial family tree, because all the data, when looked at, as a whole enabled me to confirm an already formed hypothesis or when considered with my own family knowledge confirmation of a family grouping. Of course, I still need to see the documents located at the records office, but the description being so comprehensive is the next best thing. I also used the time to focus on my to do list and see if there were any links between that and the catalogue extraction.

The issue of working in a surname project such as this means that you likely have individuals within a county who do not necessarily connect to your family, but what I did do was to focus on one town within the county, which in my case was Rudgwick. I then was able to use the material I had already from earlier research, family knowledge, parish records and the data extraction and to bring those different elements together. I will talk on this in the coming weeks as currently this piece of work is on a series of index cards!

Lockdown coincided with the breaking open of a new notebook. I may have mentioned before that I had used a Moleskine expanded – 400 pages. The notebook was used from the 24 March through until 28 July and contains the work from the West Sussex records office, which is rather handy.   My current notebook is the regular size and I am likely to finish that by the end of the month. The next expanded sitting on my desk, primed for action! The next records office to tackle is East Sussex and I shall not only extract notes of the surname Butcher, but also the house names and Rudgwick, in case there are some overlaps. Something to remember is that current boundaries do not reflect what was, therefore it is important to search both records offices and that means extending the search words.

Posted in Butcher One-Name Study, Genealogy, One-Name Studies, Surnames | Leave a comment

COVID-19 and what it has meant for Genealogy

Created September 2020 using Wordclouds.com

I am sure we all agree that 2020 has been a strange year. COVID-19 has moved from being a viral condition that had it’s focus on the Far East of the world and many of us, likely did not consider it back in December 2019 as a issue that would effect us. Our focus was likely on the festive season, with cooking, grocery shopping, present buying and then the wrapping of gifts.

Fast forward to the early part of 2020 and the focus was shifting, across Continental Europe and beyond. By the time early March arrived there was mentioning of COVID every day in the news, as the numbers of infections and sadly deaths rose and rose. Towards the end of mid March, the Prime Minister of the UK hit the pause button and we entered a lock down.

My neighbour recently commented to me that when it snows there is an silence that descends on our neighbourhoods and that same silence arrived with the lock down, she then said did I know what she meant? I agreed, I did know what she meant and I too had voiced something similar to my nearest and dearest, though I think he was not really interested!

Having entered the lock down, our focus shifted, mine certainly did. In fact in March I was teaching the new surnames course for Pharos Tutors and Teaching, Practicalities of a One-Name Study. The course concluded and I gathered my notes and tutor papers, returned them to the bookshelf and entered a note in my diary for July, when I wanted to do a review and make edits, ready for the next intake of the course in October.

Meanwhile, family history societies around the globe were cancelling meetings and gathering. There was a degree of uncertainty on how long any restrictions would last, but in the main, many societies made the decision to cancel events. For some organisations, they immediately moved events online. Others though were slower in doing so, not in reaching that conclusion, but getting the practicalities organised and doing work behind the scenes, testing platforms like Zoom and making decisions on what type of account they should purchase. There is quite a steep learning curve if you have never been involved in online events as an organiser.

If COVID has taught us nothing else, it has meant that genealogical and family history organisations have needed to evolve, in order to maintain a presence. In the last five years many organisations have been seeing a decline in their membership numbers. The meetings that local genealogical groups organised were still being attended by many members, but nowhere near the numbers of ten or 15 years ago. The decline probably due to the internet, but that is not all. Lets go back a step or two, as I make some general points.

When I began researching in the late 1980’s I was, without doubt one of the youngest at any meetings I attended. Genealogy was always considered something undertaken by those who were retired and perhaps, in the majority it was mostly, 30 years ago. The internet changed those demographics. Now, if you were retired 20 years ago then the likelihood of you wanting to attend evening events being 20 years older is perhaps slim. Perhaps genealogy is now, quite literally a past time, rather than a pastime. If that is the case then perhaps membership numbers start to decline. Organisations in countries where there is huge distances, the USA and Australia were probably the most likely to embrace online events earlier than the UK organisations.

I belong to a number of genealogical societies, of which none in the UK provided any online facilities in the format of meetings and webinars. The Guild of One-Name Studies began delivering webinars in 2018, with COVID there has been an increase of organisations taking advantage of platforms like Zoom and I am personally delighted. It has meant that I can participate in online discussions or attend presentations organised by the Society of Genealogists (SOG), amongst others. Indeed, my two surname talks that I was due to deliver in May at the SOG were understandably cancelled. The SOG then embraced the online world and I delivered the same presentations in early June, with another scheduled for later this year.

Created September 2020 using Wordclouds.com

Is the glass half full or half empty?

My glass is always half full, so whilst the world of COVID has been truly devastating in terms of the global casualties of the pandemic, deaths and the economies, it has provided an opportunity to those family history societies to rejuvenate themselves and for those out of area and housebound members, amongst others to interact with the society, even if on a small scale.

It has also provided opportunity for researchers to rejuvenate their family history. Revisit old post it notes, data extractions from online providers and catch up on the filing and organisation of their work. I’ll be back talking what I did, genealogically speaking in a future post.

Posted in Genealogy | 4 Comments

A Year in Surnames Week 2 – Surname Beginning with A (Ayling) #AYearInSurnames

This week I have focused on a surname that occurs in my own ancestry, the surname of AYLING.

My Grandfather’s sister, Ellen Butcher married Albert Edward Ayling in 1930 at St Nicholas Church at Guildford. Albert was known by his middle name, though it was shortened to Ted. He was a keen sportsman, playing cricket in the Surrey village of Shackleford until he was in his early 70’s.

Marriage of Ellen Violet Butcher and Albert Edward Ayling 1930 St Nicholas Guildford Courtesy of Surrey History Centre & Ancestry

When my Aunt died in 2009, aged 98, she had been a widow some 24 years. During the time I spent with the family following my Aunt’s burial, I was asked if I could do some research on the Aylings. This I did, sharing with the family. Recently, with the death of one of their children, I have turned again to those notes and taken the opportunity to research further.

I had a quick look at that earlier research and found that Ted’s Ayling family had hailed from Lurgershall in Sussex. A coincidence was that another branch of my family come from the same village. In the space of an hour I managed to retrace Ted’s family back to 1801, which confirmed the earlier research.

Ayling Surname Distribution based on the 1881 Census for England and Wales courtesy of Surname Atlas (Steve Archer)

Sussex is a hotbed of Ayling’s, as is Hampshire and to a lesser degree Surrey. A quick look at Surname Atlas which is a super surname distribution map, based on the 1881 Census. This map shows the most instances of the surname in the darker counties. You will see that Sussex is a significant county, followed by Middlesex, Surrey, Hampshire and Kent. Then there are a few other incidences of the surname in the palest locations, such as Norfolk.

From the collection of Julie Goucher, the view across Lurgershall towards the church from the Mill at Lurgershall

A few years ago, I came across a lovely watercolour painted by George Ayling (1887-1969). I purchased it, not because of the Ayling connection, but because of the view. The painting is the view across Lurgershall from the Mill and towards the church. This mill is now located at the Wield and Downlad Museum. I visited the museum more than 40 years ago whilst I was at school.

The next instalment of #AYearInSurnames will be posted sometime next weekend. If you would like to take part, you can read the introductory post HERE, but essentially,each Saturday (UK time), a blog post that fits with the theme for the week should be written and posted to your own site during the forthcoming week. Do not forget to leave the link for your post in the comments on this site.

For those who like to plan ahead, I have released the blog themes for the entire year and these can be downloaded from HERE

#AYearInSurnames

Posted in A Year in Surnames, Ayling, Genealogy, One-Name Studies | Leave a comment

A Year in Surnames Week 1 – Surnames of my Grandparents #AYearInSurnames

I always think of the surnames of my Grandparents in two groups. On one side, the English ones for the surnames of BUTCHER and MATTHEWS and on the other side, the Italian ones, for the surnames of ORLANDO and LICATA.

All four surnames, and how they link into my family saw variations of migration, whether that was across County lines in the United Kingdom or across the English Channel or Atlantic in regard to my Italian Grandparents.

Distribution of Surnames 2014 for Orlando and Butcher – Copyright Julie Goucher 2020

The image shown here, comes from one of my surname presentations and has been created using the site, https://forebears.io

This shows the distribution of the surnames, Butcher and Orlando for 2014, which is the only year where there is a comparison between the two surnames.

My own Butcher family migrated across the globe much earlier than this though, starting with John Hunt Butcher in 1815 who left Surrey for Tasmania along with his family. Other branches of the family later on went to Canada and on the home front, moved consistently and frequently between Surrey and Sussex.

My own Orlando family migrated in two waves, firstly to the United States in the early years of the 20th Century and later post the second world war, though at that time they came to England. Since then they have ping-ponged their way back and forth.

In thirty years of research I have never explored if my Matthews family individuals migrated out of England. My great great Grandfather, John Matthews (born 1848) migrated from Warwickshire where he was a re-married former widower with three children from his first marriage and a coke dealer, to Surrey. It was relatively common, for widowers to remarry fairly quickly, though in John’s case he took four years to do so. He died in Surrey in 1927.

My Grandmother, Maria Carmela Licata born 1899 and lived her entire life in Sutera a rural village in Sicily, the youngest of four children. Her brother and two older sisters left Sutera and migrated to the United States, settling at least initially in New York. Of the sisters, the oldest was married and sailed with her younger sister and two children, to join her husband who had already sailed and established his life in America. The younger sister was not married and recorded her brother as her family member. It has been two years since I did any work on this family, but the older sister died in New York, with her death registered in New York and also entered into the death register in Sutera, which un-nerved me a bit, as it inferred she had died in Sutera, whereas it was written by a priest keeping careful watch on his former flock.

The next instalment of #AYearInSurnames will be posted sometime next weekend. If you would like to take part, you can read the introductory post HERE, but essentially,each Saturday (UK time), a blog post that fits with the theme for the week should be written and posted to your own site during the forthcoming week. Do not forget to leave the link for your post in the comments on this site.

For those who like to plan ahead, I have released the blog themes for the entire year and these can be downloaded from HERE

#AYearInSurnames

Posted in A Year in Surnames, Genealogy, One-Name Studies | Leave a comment

Introducing a Year in Surnames #AYearInSurnames

Unless your family are from Iceland, you have a surname, and so do your ancestors. The year of 2020 has been a strange year, full of promise until a pandemic struck, then as Country after Country entered lock down, it was as if someone had pressed a global pause button.

During the 28 weeks I was confined to the house shielding, I did a lot of research, evaluation, writing and thinking, though not necessarily in that order!

I am always surprised when genealogists and family historians take the view that studying surnames is a niche subject, after all we all have one and therefore, researching surnames, to some degree should be very much front and centre of our individual research.

As I said, I have done lots of thinking, and part of that thinking is to create a series of blog posts, centred around surnames. For the next 52 weeks we will explore a surname each week from our individual family history, centred on a theme or a letter from the alphabet, with the latter not being in any specific order.

Does that sound like fun? If so, why not play along.

Each Saturday (UK time), starting tomorrow, 5th September 2020 a blog post that fits with the theme for the week should be written and posted to your own site during the forthcoming week. Do not forget to leave the link for your post in the comments on this site.

For those who like to plan ahead, I have released the blog themes for the entire year and these can be downloaded from HERE

Posted in A Year in Surnames, Genealogy, One-Name Studies | 2 Comments

Researching Surnames Guide – Readalong

Cover for Surname bookletBeginning 1 September 2020, I am offering a read-a-long of this booklet, coupled with discussion – there is just ONE space left. Please do not delay if you wish to join us.

The booklet will be read over 3 weeks and then discussed over alternating weeks.

Here is the schedule:

  • 1 September 2020 reading pages 1-15 (A)
  • 8 September 2020 online discussion via Zoom (A)
  • 7 September 2020 reading pages 15-25 (B)
  • 15 September 2020 online discussion via Zoom (B)
  • 14 September 2020 reading pages 26-38 (C)
  • 22 September 2020 online discussion via Zoom (C)

There is opportunity to follow up on the discussions and learning as the Pharos surnames course, Practicalities of a One-Name Study, begins on 6th October 2020. The next Introduction to One-Name Studies course is in February 2021.

The booklet is available to Guild of One-Name Studies members free of charge in PDF format or can be purchased from the Guild HERE (100% of all purchases support the Guild)

Places for this read-a-long will be limited and available to all. They are free of charge. Depending on the interest, there may not be another opportunity to take part.

Form removed, if you wish to receive information of any possible next running of the read-a-long please use the contact button to send me a note!

Posted in Genealogy, Introduction to One-Name Studies (Pharos course 901), One-Name Studies, Practicalities of a One-Name Studies (Pharos Course 903) | Leave a comment

Researching Displaced People – Webinar

Image Courtesy of Virtual Genealogical Association

Today I shall be presenting a webinar to members of the Virtual Genealogical Association. To read all about the VGA please click HERE.

The webinar, Researching Displaced People will begin at 11 am Eastern US time.

The handout is comprehensive and will be available by clicking the image below

Posted in European Ancestors, One-Name Studies, Presentations | Leave a comment

Desk Ramblings (29)

Desk Ramblings

Created by Julie Goucher, July 2019

The last Desk Ramblings post, which you can read HERE, was written as the UK went into COVID-19 lock-down, on 26 March. Since then it has been a strange time to be living in and I wonder what historians of the future will make of it?

Whilst some found the last 4 months a challenge, I was not especially bothered by not going out and about. We kept our interactions with others to a minimum, at least in the physical sense, despite that I still managed to be unwell, but am on the mend now. I taught two Pharos courses during  the period of March to July, the first running of the Practicalities of a One-Name Study and then an Introduction to One-Name Studies.

On a personal note, I decided to work through the online catalogues of a number of venues relating to my One-Name Studies. I started with West Sussex Records Office and whereas I expected to be able to conclude the whole of Sussex and Surrey, I have only managed to complete West Sussex. I also managed to watch a Society of Genealogists recording, Treasures of the Society of Genealogists, which was immensely helpful. I lectured twice during June to the Society of Genealogists, about Surnames, plus to a genealogical Society in the United States. I also wrote three presentations, one of which will be presented a bit later this month.

Readers may remember that I mentioned on the last Desk Ramblings that I was about to start a Moleskine Expanded notebook, which has 400 pages, well I did start it and finished it, the notebook did me the entire period of lock down, so that was well timed! Here is a brief snapshot:

Moleskine Expanded 1

As you can see here, I use quite a lot of those tabs of what material is located where. Moleskine does not have a index page, nor are there page numbers. For the first time in years, I did not leave space at the beginning of the book, in essence, I winged it. This book contains a host of material, journal entries, notes and research material. In a strange way, the lack of page numbers and an index did not, and has not prohibited me from locating material. My current notebook is the slimmer Moleskine, but I have another expanded lined up ready and waiting.

I note that I have a few posts completed, but not scheduled for two previous series, I shall complete these posts get them up this week. It is ironic, that having been home for the best part of more than four months, I still have outstanding tasks.

I have scheduled a Read-a-Long of the Surname Research Guide, which you can read about, and sign up HERE. The booklet is not a long read, but the concept of a group read was to bring together those who might be curious about surnames and want to focus on reading and discussion. We all have surnames, yet having a surname specific study is seen as unusual.

I hope everyone has been well and safe, stay tuned for more frequent posting.

Posted in Desk Ramblings!, Stationary,Filofax, Journals & Notebooks | 2 Comments

Q & A – Which Pharos One-Name Studies course should I take first?

Q & A

Created by Julie Goucher – Feb 2020 Using Wordclouds.com

This morning I received the following question:

Julie, I recently joined the Guild of One-Name Studies having listened to your online lecture with the Society of Genealogists. I want to take part in the readalong, but I am not sure what Pharos course I should do first?

 Thanks for your question. Historically there was two courses offered by Pharos, the Introduction to One-Name Studies course and the Advanced One-Name Studies course. When I took over teaching the Introduction course, I began keeping a note of questions that I was asked by students, some with a great deal of frequency. Those notes eventually found themselves turned into the Practicalities of a ONS course which ran for the first time in March.

In a perfect world, the Practicalities course would follow the Introduction course, and in the main that does happen, but it is not an issue for students to take the practical course first. The course outline shows that the Introduction course is focused on the foundations of a study, whereas the Practicalities course has the focus on the practical elements of a study, but there is a bit of overlap between the courses, because elements of the beginnings of a study do overlap.

That said, over the last almost four years I have taught students whose studies have been up and running for a number of years, as some want to revisit elements of their studies and expand their knowledge. Some students have been focused on other matters and want to refresh their knowledge etc. In much the same way as there is no right or wrong way to work on a study, there is no right or wrong way to take the One-Name Studies courses, they are seeking to provide layered learning.

It is not just the formal learning of the courses, the networking between students is actually lovely to see develop and that very much follows the ethos of the Guild, members helping members. I am consider myself very lucky in that I get to interact with members of the Guild and genealogists, teach what I find absolutely fascinating and to spread the word about surnames.

I hope that helps and I will see you on the Readalong. I have a number of posts to share here in the coming days, so I have pinned the Readalong post to the front page of anglersrest.net In the meantime, do read the numerous surname posts HERE, and the course descriptions of the Pharos courses, the links appear on the right hand side of the this site or on the Pharos website.

Posted in Introduction to One-Name Studies (Pharos course 901), One-Name Studies, Practicalities of a One-Name Studies (Pharos Course 903), Q & A | Leave a comment

Researching Surnames Guide – Readalong

Cover for Surname bookletBeginning 1 September 2020, I am offering a read-a-long of this booklet, coupled with discussion.

The booklet will be read over 3 weeks and then discussed over alternating weeks.

Here is the schedule:

  • 1 September 2020 reading pages 1-15 (A)
  • 8 September 2020 online discussion via Zoom (A)
  • 7 September 2020 reading pages 15-25 (B)
  • 15 September 2020 online discussion via Zoom (B)
  • 14 September 2020 reading pages 26-38 (C)
  • 22 September 2020 online discussion via Zoom (C)

There is opportunity to follow up on the discussions and learning as the Pharos surnames course, Practicalities of a One-Name Study, begins on 6th October 2020. The next Introduction to One-Name Studies course is in February 2021.

The booklet is available to Guild of One-Name Studies members free of charge in PDF format or can be purchased from the Guild HERE (100% of all purchases support the Guild)

Places for this read-a-long will be limited and available to all. They are free of charge. Depending on the interest, there may not be another opportunity to take part.

Form removed, if you wish to receive information of any possible next running of the read-a-long please use the contact button to send me a note!

Posted in Genealogy, Introduction to One-Name Studies (Pharos course 901), One-Name Studies, Practicalities of a One-Name Studies (Pharos Course 903) | Leave a comment