News and Blog

The latest news and information from the Achievements team.

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. The misdemeanours of the Kerry family of Suffolk

    Family history research in the nineteenth century is usually based on General Registration certificates of birth, marriage and death, together with the decennial census returns enumerated from 1841 onwards.  But newspaper records can help fill in fascinating details about our ancestors’ lives, bringing them alive in a way that few other records can.

    One such example is with the Kerry family of Suffolk.  Genealogical sources had revealed them in census returns, GRO records and parish registers.  Dennis Kerry was baptised in Wattisfield in 1796, and lived most of his life in the village of Badwell Ash, in North Suffolk.  He and his sons were consistently recorded as agricultural labourers, as was the majority of the rural population at the time.  They did not leave wills, and it is often difficult to find out more about our normal, working ancestors.

    However, here we were aided by the digitised newspaper collection, which included the Suffolk publications The Bury and Norwich Post as well as The Suffolk Chronicle.  These newspapers included information on family notices of birth, marriage and death, local tradesmen’s adverts, as well as records of the local petty and quarter sessions.

    The reports in the local newspaper made for intriguing reading.  Dennis Kerry married his wife Ann Makins in 1820, but in 1830 he was charged with abandoning her.  Dennis was recorded in The Suffolk Chronicle of 23rd October 1830 as being committed to the Bury St Edmunds Gaol, for leaving his wife and family, thus making her chargeable to the parish.

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    Parish registers indicate that Dennis quickly returned to his wife, and they continued baptising children at Badwell Ash until the year 1839.

    Dennis and his family appear in later newspapers, for a variety of reasons.  The Suffolk Chronicle of 12th January 1861, showed that he was convicted to ten days hard labour at the Ixworth Petty Sessions for steeling turnips.

    2In 1873 Dennis and his wife Ann were called as witnesses to a theft of money, as recorded in the Bury and Norwich Post.  Two years later, in 1875, their son James, and grandson John Kerry, were convicted together of stealing “two ash poles”.  This was again recorded in the Bury and Norwich Post.3

    This newspaper record gives valuable information about who the Kerrys were working for, in a way that few other records do.  It is interesting to find that the son was let off, and the father given 14 days hard labour.  Young John would have been 17 at this time, and the court clearly felt that his father had led him astray.

    Newspaper entries relating to the Kerry family covered many decades and several generations of the same family, finding reference to them from the 1830s onwards.  Whilst Dennis was convicted of leaving his wife, he clearly returned to the parish of Badwell Ash, where he and Ann were witnesses to a theft in later decades.  Dennis himself stole some turnips in the 1860s, perhaps to help feed his family, whilst his son and grandson later stole wooden poles from their employer.  An interesting investigation indeed.

  4. 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.

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  5. More interesting newspaper records . . .

    Following our post from last week about what type of information can be found in newspapers, here is another snippet.  Whilst researching the Yule family of Scotland, an advert was found for James Yule, selling “Upper Peruvian Guano”.  That certainly wasn’t stated on the census entries for James, who was more usually recorded as a farmer.  Such adverts and newspaper snippets can provide additional information on what occupations our ancestors were practicing, and how they were diversifying their businesses!

     

    Yule advert

  6. Newspaper records in tracing ancestors

    Family historians will naturally gravitate towards records of General Registration and census returns when tracing nineteenth century ancestors.  These, of course, provide an essential backbone to any family tree, and a framework from which to work.

    It is always interesting to “flesh out” that family tree however, and newspaper records can be a really excellent resource.  As well as including birth, marriage and death notices, full obituaries may be found, detailing an ancestor’s life.  As well as this, advertisements could give clues to businesses which were run by our predecessors, or even if they were caught breaking the law. The results of local quarter and petty sessions were regularly reported on, and it is certainly interesting to see what type of offences were reported by the local newspaper.

    One of our genealogists has traced her own family in newspaper records, the results of which can be viewed here.  From wife abandonment to stealing turnips, newspaper records offer a varied and interesting view of our ancestors lives!

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