News and Blog

The latest news and information from the Achievements team.

  1. WDYTYA? Live at the NEC 2017

    Alongside our sister company, The Institute of Heraldic and Genealogical Studies, we are all busy getting ready for the event next week. If you are interested in any aspect of family history, then a visit to Who Do You Think You Are? Live at the NEC s not to be missed.  It is on between Thursday 6th and Saturday 8th April this year, and includes talks and workshops on all kinds of genealogical subjects.

    And don’t forget to come and say hello to us at Stand number 71.

  2. Awaken Your Ancestors – Launched today

    Our sister organisation The Institute of Heraldic and Genealogical Studies (IHGS) is excited to announce the launch of Awaken your Ancestors, their brand new correspondence course.

    Awaken your Ancestors, is an introduction to Family History – leading the student through the major record sources of the 19th century; civil registration and census records, and providing the platform on which to extend research back into the 18/17th centuries using the records of the parish.   Internet searches, the use of indexes and finding aids and how to draw a family tree are also included.

    The course is designed to help those who are new to family history, those who have already started but need guidance on how to do things properly and those who are looking for inspiration on how to break down that brick wall.   The course is the first of three that we will introduce over the coming year; courses that will take students on an ancestral journey that will lead to the IHGS Advanced Level in Genealogy.

    The course will be officially launched at Who Do You Think You Are? Live, at the NEC, Birmingham, on the 6th April.  The course can be ordered in advance at the special event price of £115, a saving of £20.   To take advantage of the special offer click to purchase the AWAKEN correspondence course now.   Course documentation will be released on Monday the 3rd April.

  3. Who Do You Think You Are? Sunetra Sarker

    Tonight actress Sunetra Sarker traces her Indian and Bangladesh roots, finding along the way that her family were champions of education for both men and women. She also learns about their experience during the war of independence in Bangladesh in 1971.

  4. Who Do You Think You Are? Warwick Davies

    On BBC1 tomorrow [15th February] at 8pm the 8th episode of the series features the family History of Warwick Davies.  “Actor Warwick Davis owes his big break aged 11 to his paternal grandmother Edith, who heard a radio ad ‘looking for short people to appear in Return of the Jedi’. Warwick takes a non-judgemental approach as he researches the family line stretching back from Edith, finding humanity and humour in some uncomfortable stories. On his maternal side, Warwick is equally open-minded when he finds out about his three-times-great-grandfather – a postman who lived a double life”.

  5. Family Reunions

    Many family historians like to plan large family reunions, getting together people descended from different branches of the same family.  Yesterday the BBC reported on a gathering of over 500 people who got together for the Ren family reunion in Shishe, China. A photograph can be seen on the BBC website of all 500 taken by Zhang Liangzong. He told the BBC that the Ren family, which originates from the village, can be traced back 851 years, but their family tree had not been updated for more than eight decades. Village elders recently began updating the family tree records and managed to track down at least 2,000 living descendants spanning seven generations. More on this story can be found on the BBC’s website.

  6. Rugby Union 6 Nations

    The 6 Nations championship kicks off on Saturday. The origins date back to 1871, when teams from England and Scotland played in the first-ever rugby union international match. In 1879, the Calcutta Cup was created as a prize for the winner of occasional matches played between teams from these two countries. In 1883 the Home International Championship, with teams from England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland, was created.

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    France officially joined in 1910 and it became known as the 5 Nations, although they were dropped between 1932-1946. with Italy joining in 2000 it became the 6 nations. So aside from a break caused by the First and Second World Wars, the championship in some form has been played for over a 134 years.

    Whilst your ancestors may have played Rugby Union it was not until 1995 that it turned professional, so none could have made their living from playing. However, mention of your ancestors sporting life might be found in University alumni, school registers and of course newspapers.

  7. Who Do You Think You Are? Ian McKellen

    The new series continued last night and, if you have not seen it, do catch the repeat or watch it on BBC I Player. Last night’s episode was one of the best in the series so far and Ian Mckellen was a charming guide leading us through the story of his family history. Maybe only he can make reading newspaper clippings, a favourite devise in the series,  so enjoyable. Sir Ian discovered that he shared a passion for acting and campaigning with two of his ancestors. Finding along the way that his ancestor Robert Lowes made a vital contribution to the campaign for a half day Saturday that started in Manchester and spread to the rest of  the country. And it is because of that campaign that many of us now enjoy weekends without work.

  8. New Director of Education appointed at The Institute of Heraldic and Genealogical Studies

    Our sister organisation is pleased to announce the appointment of Les Mitchinson as the Institute’s Director of Education.   Les will initially assume the role on a part-time basis with immediate effect. Les is a graduate of the Institute having gained the Higher Certificate in 2008 and the Diploma in Genealogy (DipGen) in 2009.   Les has also been a member of the IHGS Education Board since 2012 and a Course Tutor since 2010. Les is also the owner of LMentary Family History and Education, and has a portfolio of professional development courses ranging from beginner through to Diploma in Genealogy.   A number of LMentary students have successfully attained the IHGS Higher Certificate and IHGS Diploma in Genealogy awards.   We look forward to a long and successful partnership with Les.

  9. Burial in Woollen

    Family history research can often raise questions, not just who was our ancestor! Searching in parish registers we can find terms we are unfamiliar with. For example, have you ever seen the word affidavit in a burial register and wondered what it meant?

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    Following the Restoration, Britain’s sheep farmers were producing more wool than was being used and so to address the problem and boost the wool trade, in 1666 the first Act ordering that all bodies had to be buried in a shroud made of woollen cloth was passed.  In 1678 a second Act was passed with more stringent regulations, ordering an affidavit signed by a magistrate to be produced to confirm that a burial had met the necessary requirements. In 1680 a concession was made allowing the affidavit to be signed by a minister. Richer people often chose to flaunt their wealth by ignoring the regulation and choosing to pay the fine for non-compliance.  The fine was in the sum of £5, of which 50% was paid to the informant and the balance to the poor.

    So even the word affidavit in a parish register reveals another detail of how our ancestors lived.

  10. Bank Holidays

    We are all now back at work after the New Year’s bank holiday (those of us who were lucky enough not to have to work them that is!). However, our ancestors did not enjoy the same break from work. It was not until 1974 that New Year’s day became a bank holiday in England. It had been recognised in Scotland since 1871.  Regarding set holidays more generally, before 1834 the Bank of England observed 33 saints’ days and religious festivals as holidays. In 1834 the number of bank holidays was set by the Bank of England at only four being May Day, 1st November (All Saints’ Day), Good Friday and Christmas Day.  In 1871 the first parliamentary legislation was introduced which made them official and it settled on Easter Monday, Whit Sunday, the first Monday in  August, and Boxing Day as official bank holidays. This was alongside Good Friday and Christmas Day which were common law holidays. In 1978 the first Monday in May in the rest of the UK, and the final Monday of May in Scotland was also included with the bank holidays.

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