Favourite Book(s) #28 – Tracing Your Pre-Victorian Ancestors – A Guide to Research Methods for Family Historians by John Wintrip

Pre Victorian AncestorsThis is a fabulous book for those who are embarking on researching their genealogical pursuits in England and Wales, whether you are new to this area of research or an established researcher. This book takes you back earlier than Civil Registration in England and Wales which began in September 1837 and for which the indexes can be found at the large genealogical data companies and FreeBMD.

This book looks at research using Parish Registers, Bishop Transcripts, records kept in Latin and delves deeper, so that using other records you can take your genealogical tree’s back further. There is a small chapter on Names and on naming patterns for this period.

  • The first son is usually named after the paternal grandfather
  • The second son is usually named after the maternal grandfather
  • The third son is usually named after the father
  • Subsequent sons are usually named after paternal then maternal Uncles

Patterns for daughters followed similar patterns and often children were also named after Godparents or other close friends or family.

This is typical and not absolute in my experience and I have several examples in my own British family where the usual naming pattern was not followed. My Italian family on the other hand was almost absolute in the naming patterns.

It was common practice to name a child of the same sex after a child that had passed away earlier. I have an example in my Italian family where the mother gave birth whilst an older child was ill and not expected to survive. The baby was a son, like the older child and was therefore name after that child and the paternal relative who the initial child was named after. The older child pulled through the illness and the family had two children, a few years apart with the same first name. In that instance it is likely that a nickname was used within the family to distinguish one from the other! So whilst naming patterns are really helpful depending on the Country and Religious culture there may be differences and the odd curve ball that leaves you scratching your head!

What I particularly like about this book is that it encourages thinking beyond the obvious. It focuses on knowledge and skills, evidence, sources, family reconstruction, social status, relocation, religion & occupations, searching for information, archives and libraries, missing ancestors, mistaken identity – we all have them, two people, roughly the same age, born in the same area, living in the same area and called the same name – if we are especially lucky they will even have the same occupations and marry women with the same name!

Having read the book I went back to the generation of my maternal Great Great Grandmother, Caroline Ellis. She was born in a rural parish in Surrey in 1844 and was a formidable character according to my Great Aunts each who knew her. Caroline, like her daughter, my Great Grandmother and my Great Aunts all lived until they were well into their 90’s and I have a super picture of Caroline and four of her daughters – I digress.

I focused on Caroline’s family because I had some loose ends, including one relating to Caroline’s brother Edward, known to my Great Aunt as Uncle Ted who lived with Caroline. I had never explored his life in detail, beyond what I had been told and identified on official records – essentially I knew he lived with Caroline, was called Uncle Ted by my Great Aunt and when he was born and died. What about what happened in the rest of his life? A quick search for him on the various genealogical data sets and I located him, in a military regiment in Kent, his record at Chelsea pensioners and his marriage to a women who was 15 years older than him. I did a quick search of the Regiment and was able to establish where he served and his Chelsea Pensioners record filled in some of the blanks, his ill-health was caused by 18 months in what was referred to as “British Burma”. I trawled back through note book after notebook and my Great Aunts all of whom had amazing memories never mentioned a word about military service. The reason when I added it to my timeline was because he joined up and served all before they were born, so they probably only saw an ill old man and never looked or asked beyond the obvious which was typical in those days, and neither did I; and I should have done, because Uncle Ted deserves to be remembered and his life is so much more than just a name and a few dates.

So I plan to spend some time filling in the blanks on Uncle Ted and seeing what else I might not have thought about relating to him and his brothers.

This is an excellent book and I thoroughly recommend it. It is available on Kindle, but I have the physical book and my copy has a number of post it notes in it.

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Favourite Book(s) #27 – 84 Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff

Thus is one of my favourite go to books if I have been in a reading slump or I have been reading heavy texts. It is a light and amusing book. This is the story of Helene Hanff and the wonderful relationship she built up between herself and Frank an employee of  Messrs Marks and Co, sellers of rare and secondhand books, at 84 Charing Cross Road, London.

There is something almost innocent in the writing, which comprises of a series of letters between Helene and Frank spanning the years following post World War II.

In fact I am going to cheat slightly and say that all the books written by Helene are lovely and have that same genuine innocence about them. My second favourite of Helene’s book is Apple of my Eye which is set in New York and has some wonderful descriptive elements of parts of New York, including the Twin Towers.

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Book of Me Prompts – July 2017

Book of Me2018

© 2017 Julie Goucher

Welcome to the seventh set of prompts for the 2018 Series of the Book of Me. You can read when the prompts are published and about the few changes at my earlier post HERE

There are five prompts each month and you can undertake as many or as few as you wish to.

  • What is your favourite flower and why?
  • What is your favourite film or play and why?
  • Find a quote that speaks to you?
  • Do you have any regrets? If so, name two and why?
  • Do you believe what you cannot see?

If you have any questions or want to share thoughts or a blog link, if you decide to share via a blog (remember to, that you don’t have to share to take part in the series) then please leave a comment. Further discussion is also happening in the closed Facebook Group.

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Favourite Book(s) #26 – The Guernsey Novels by Anne Allen


This is a great fabulous series by author, Anne Allen who lives in Devon. Her  series of books are available on Amazon as both physical and Kindle books. The image here shows the first five books and the sixth book in the series was published in October 2017. I certainly hope there will be a seventh book in the series.

The books in order, in case you are like me and have to read in order are:

  1. Dangerous Water
  2. Finding Mother
  3. Guernsey Retreat
  4. The Family Divided
  5. Echoes of Time
  6. The Betrayal

All the books can be read as standalone books, but have the central characters the same with each book focusing on a different central character or two. I heard Anne speak at my local library in the summer of 2016. During that time she did a short reading and chatted about her journey before she became an author and why she selected Guernsey as the setting for her series.

The books are set in the modern time, but with flashes back to the days of the Occupation of the island during the Second World War. I truly enjoy them. I borrowed the first four books from the library, but actually own a full set as Kindle books because they are like trusty friends and I have read them all more than once!

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Guild of One-Name Studies Webinar – Publish & Preserve

Webinar 7

The latest Guild of One-Name Studies webinar is available to EVERYONE until 28th June 2018 and can be viewed HERE. It will become a members benefit on 29 June.

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Favourite Book(s) #24 – The Surnames Handbook by Debbie Kennett

Surname HandbookFirstly, a disclaimer – I know the author. Debbie Kennett is a fellow member of the Guild of One-Name Studies and has no idea that her book has made by favourite book list!

This is a great book (published 2012) whether you are new to surnames research or have been focusing on it for decades. The foreward is written by the President, Derek Palgrave.

As someone who is researching a European surname there is not much in this book to guide you, but I urge you to not let that discourage you from reading it! It has a distinct British focus, but that is not to exclude other regions, but it gives a clear foundation for studies whose surname originate from the British Isles.

Let’s go back a bit – Britain, whether that is prior to the formation of the Union with Scotland or not, desperately sought to claim lands in other parts of the world. In doing so, surnames whose origins are in the British Isles are found across the globe, including Canada, United States, Australia, New Zealand, parts of the pacific and many other places. There is a huge population in Patagonia of those with Welsh heritage and surnames for example.

For a researcher who resides outside of the UK, but researching a surname with ancestors whose roots are British, this gives a great foundation to that research and does focus on some data that is not found elsewhere, for example Hearth Tax which is explained with a link to the National Archives. This data gives insight into the financial status of your 17th Century ancestor, for the simple reason the more windows your house had, the more money you had and therefore the Hearth Tax you paid! Another example is the Protestation Returns, this dates back to 1641 where men over the age of 18 had to swear an oath to King James the First (James I).

At the back of the book is a wealth of information – links to other sites (some have since publication been folded into other genealogical organisations), organisations and journals, surname websites, Linguistic resources, Surname distribution maps, place name resources, populations studies and there is a substantial notes section as well as a chapter on DNA and surnames.

This book is also one of the two key text for the Advanced course in One-Name Studies course for which it is recommended that students have previously completed the Introduction course in One-Name Studies (next course runs 16 October 2018). The second key text for the advance course I wrote about here.

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Favourite Book(s) #23 – First Class by Chris West

First ClassI was about three when my Grandfather gave me a penny stamp in an old matchbox. As time progressed I joined the millions of children across the globe who collected stamps and found myself fascinated by the person who might have licked the back of the stamp to affix it to the envelope. What did the envelope contain, a love letter,a recipe, a note? The list is endless.

I no longer collect stamps, but do still have my childhood collection that began from a simple stamp in an empty matchbox.

I spotted this book in the window of a bookseller and knew that I had to buy it. It came home with me that day and the book takes us on a journey from the first stamp, a penny black in 1840 up until the last stamp in 2007.

The book contains information on 36 stamps and not just the stamps, but also social history and other snippets of information that show the history of Britain in just 36 stamps.

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Surname Fascination

A few days ago, there was a fascinating discussion on the Family Tree Magazine (UK)  Academy Facebook group about surnames and asked the question, how many different surnames had readers come across?

Anyone who has been reading this site for a while will know I have a bit of a “thing” about surnames, after all we all have one!

Like the folk at Family Tree I devised a graphic, but I opted to create two, this first one representing some of my maternal & British side.

Maternal Line

Designed by Julie Goucher using Wordclouds.com

and this second one representing my paternal and Sicilian side.

Paternal Line

Designed by Julie Goucher using Wordclouds.com

Do we share any surnames? If we do please leave a comment below.

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Book of Me Prompts – June 2018

Book of Me2018

© 2017 Julie Goucher

Welcome to the sixth set of prompts for the 2018 Series of the Book of Me. You can read when the prompts are published and about the few changes at my earlier post HERE

There are five prompts each month and you can undertake as many or as few as you wish to.

  • What do you share?
  • How do you relax and unwind?
  • How do you keep emotionally strong?
  • What is your coping mechanism when things get tough?
  • What is your favourite colour?

If you have any questions or want to share thoughts or a blog link, if you decide to share via a blog (remember to, that you don’t have to share to take part in the series) then please leave a comment. Further discussion is also happening in the closed Facebook Group.

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Favourite Book(s) #22 – And Ladies of the Club by Helen Hooven Santmyer

51Eu6xToXdL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_This was a book that was selected to be a book club read. I bought the hard backed version because it was the only one available online at a reasonable price – the book comprises of 1176 pages and is an ideal door stop should you not like the book! Given this series is about my favourite books it sits on my bookshelves and has survived many book culls!

The book is set in Ohio between 1868 and 1932 and reviews the town’s changes through the political sphere, culture and social changes through the eyes of the women of the literary club.

Given that I had opted for the hardback it was way too heavy to read on my various commutes and was reserved for bed reading, I managed to read the book in two months and even that was quicker that most people in the group.

I have one more book by the same author, Herbs and Apples which I picked up about a decade ago from Hay on Wye, alas that book has sat on my to be read pile for the whole of that time!

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