News and Blog

The latest news and information from the Achievements team.

  1. A 17th Century Mince Pie Recipe

    Mince pies were once quite different from those we know of today. Originally filled with meat, such as lamb, goose or beef, they were larger than today’s and were  oval in shape to represent the manger that Jesus slept in. A tradition has it that if you eat a mince pie on every day of the twelve days of Christmas, you will have twelve months of happiness. Here’s a recipe for you to try, that your ancestor might once have used.a

  2. Genealogy the perfect Christmas Gift

    As Christmas draws closer, why not think about a unique gift for your loved one.  A Christmas Gift Certificate for family history research could be the perfect present for Christmas day.

    We can provide an attractive certificate to give as a gift on Christmas day, and then work with the recipient on the research after Christmas.  Why not contact us to find out more.

  3. New series of Who Do You Think You Are? starts tomorrow

    The new series starts with the actor Danny Dyer finding out he is descended from royalty. He finds he is related to William the Conqueror and Edward III. He also finds a English Civil War Cavalier amongst his ancestors. The series is aired on BBC1 at 8pm on Thursday 24th.

    Finding a gateway ancestor to royalty will extend your family tree back beyond medieval times, William the Conqueror was himself descended from Charlemagne who was born in 747. In our library here we have a large collection of pedigrees of the nobility and gentry form across Europe to help with your research.

  4. New study on the origins of names

    The Guardian has an interesting article on a four-year study by linguists and historians which analysed family names by looking at British and Irish records back to the 11th century . Whilst the theory of the origin of many names, such as Smith, has not changed some have been reassessed. The work, The Oxford Dictionary of Family Names in Britain and Ireland, has been published in four volumes and will be available in public libraries with a subscription. The original article can be viewed

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  5. New GRO Indexes

    The General Register Office has launched its own version of birth indexes, 1837-1915, and deaths indexes, 1837-1957. See

    These indexes have been created independently from other online indexes. They were made from the register images, so avoiding errors you may find on other genealogical websites (although they may have made new ones!).

    The new indexes are significant as they are the first to include the mother’s maiden name before 1911 and ages at death before 1866.  This will make family history research easier, No more buying a death certificate not knowing if the age matches your ancestor.

    A downside to the indexes is that they will only allow a search for a given  year plus two either side.

    In the future they should be extending the indexes available and adding an option to purchase the certificate as a PDF. This is currently being trialed.

  6. Who Do You Think You Are? Live 2017

    Tickets for WDYTYA? Live at the NEC, 6th-8th April 2017  go on sale tomorrow. There is a  early bird discounted rate of 2 tickets for £22. This offer is valid until midnight on 22 November.  Click to book tickets

    Achievements and IHGS will be attending all three days.

    Come visit us on stand 71.


  7. Wills and How to Read Them

    Places are available on the day course “Wills and How to Read them”, run by our sister organisation the Institute of Heraldic and Genealogical Studies. The course will show you how wills can help you research your family, how to find them and their associated documents and practical advice on how to interpret the handwriting. It is taking place on Saturday 26th November. Click for more details 

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  8. Unusual terms

    Somethings as you research your family tree you come across terms that have fallen out of use, such as a  “Knobstick” wedding. This was the marriage of a pregnant single women to the reputed father due to pressure from the parish officials. The couple would usually be married by licence obtained by the churchwardens or the overseers of the poor. They forced the couple to marry to prevent the child needing parish relief and so save the parish money. The name Knobstick referred to the churchwardens staves of office, which had a knob on the end. The churchwardens, overseers or parish constable attended the event to ensure the marriage went ahead and often acted as witnesses.


  9. Was your ancestor a star baker?

    Baking competitions have always been popular, especially as part of a village’s annual flower and produce show. Your ancestors may have been renowned for the quality of their bakes. Newspapers are a great source to find out if your family had a history of collecting prizes, as these examples show.

    Widow Stebbings was a formidable force at the Watton Annual Show “The competition for the best loaf of bread was keen….Widdow Stebbings again carried off first prize, her bread being all you could have wished for” [Norwich Mercury 23rd September 1899].

    Whereas at the Hendon Horticultural Society’s show in 1929 the vicar and his family had the competition all sewn up! [Hendon & Finchley Times 8th November 1929.




March 2017
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