News and Blog

The latest news and information from the Achievements team.

  1. Interested in delving deeper into your family tree?

    Genealogical research can give you information on names, and dates and places of birth, but what about putting flesh on the bones of your ancestry, so-to-speak?  Clues can be given in addresses, for example, about the type of area our ancestors lived in, but prior to the nineteenth century census returns and General Registration records, exact addresses are not always given in historical records.

    But there are other ways to find out more in-depth information about our ancestors.  Parish chest records can provide information on renting pews, whether our ancestors received poor relief, or were churchwardens, for example.  Census substitutes such as 17th century Hearth Tax records can show how many fireplaces our ancestors had, and the thus the relative size of their houses, whilst Protestation Returns show whether they were conforming to the Anglican church in the 1640s.

    Further back in time, manorial records can provide information on where our ancestors rented or purchased land, or whether they were fined for any misdemeanor in the local manorial court.  Thus, genealogy can be much more than names and dates: it is finding out about the historical context of our ancestors lives, and how they fitted into the historical landscape of the past.

    If you would like to find out more about your family history, contact us today to see what we can do for you.

  2. Family tree design day workshop

    Genealogists will often grapple with the issue of how to display, in a correct and easy-to-follow way, their family history.  There are various computer programmes available, but few with the flexibility of a hand-drawn pedigree, where multiple spouses can be added easily, and generations expanded without a problem.

    If this sounds familiar, then a course run by our sister organisation the IHGS, may be for you. Running on Saturday 8th October, this day course provides everything you need to know about creating a family tree diagram in Powerpoint format, from creation, standard pedigree abbreviations, to printing the final product.  For more information, click here to find out more and book a place.

  3. Weekend course in genealogy

    Interested in finding out more on fleshing our your family tree?  Not sure where to start?  Then the Institute of Heraldic and Genealogical Studies Beginners to Intermediate weekend course on genealogy might be for you.  It will cover topics including parish registers, parish record, wills and paleography.

    Taking place at our headquarters in historic Canterbury, this course is running from Friday 8th-Sunday 10th July.  To find out more, including booking information and accommodation provided, click here.

  4. Born during a thunderstorm?

    The theme of the week has been forenames representing weather events, and today’s focus is on the name Storm.  The first instance of Storm as a forename in General Registration, which began in July 1837, is the marriage of a Storm Beard in 1839 in Bath.  Storm is a British surname, so it is possible that he was named after a maternal surname in his family tree.  Alternatively, he may simply have been born during some memorable weather!

    This seems to be the case for Stormy Thompson who was born in Sunderland in 1851, and who died just a year later.  Perhaps the most interesting name found during this search is Stormy Petrel Hodgson, born in 1887 in Poplar.  Whilst this child was born in London, perhaps it’s parents had an affinity with marine life as well as the weather!

    Storm is more usually found as a surname, and intriguingly the first Storm entry in General Registration is the death of one Christmas Storm in 1837 in Yorkshire.  What a name combination!

  5. Notes in parish registers “New vicar expected – unknown”

    Every genealogist looking in original parish registers will undoubtedly come across notes and jottings by the local incumbent.  Whether they relate to the weather, unusual longevity of a parishioner, or other event, they can provide a varied and interesting insight into the lives of our ancestors.

    Whilst examining the parish registers of the Essex village of Felsted, one of our searchers came across a note in the register in February 1769.  It simply read “A new vicar expected unknown”.

    New Vicar Expected Felsted

    This parish was clearly in the process of gaining a new vicar, although as yet one had not been appointed, or if he had, the writer of this note was as yet unaware.  Despite this, he chose to record this information in the register, showing how expectantly the parish was awaiting the new incumbent!


  6. A son or daughter named Rainbow?

    Today’s weather in Kent has lost it’s appeal!  Rain has been coming down all morning, and looks set to stay in for the day.  Whereas last week we looked at the name Spring when used as a forename, today we considered the name Rain and Rainbow.

    Very few children were called “Rain” when looking in the General Registration birth indexes, although Rainbow appeared with more frequency.  As with the name Spring, it appeared to be used as both a boy and girls name.  This unusual choice of forename may have been inspired by a particularly spectacular rainbow appearing at the time of their birth, perhaps after a storm.

    Equally however, further research suggests that the surname Rainbow appears with more frequency, with nearly 4000 birth entries for the period 1837-1930.  Family commemoration may also have influenced the giving of Rainbow as a first name, as much as unusual weather.  Either way, surely this forename would have been shortened to “Rain” by friends and family?!

  7. Imagine being named Spring . . . .

    Continuing our “spring” theme from yesterday, imagine those ancestors which actually had this as a forename.  As a surname, Spring is not particularly rare, but it was also passed down as a forename.  Presumably this was usually in commemoration of the surname, perhaps from a maternal line, but the seasons must have inspired some parents!

    For example, Spring Dear was born in the September quarter of 1853 in Norfolk.  Indeed, looking at the middle names given to children in the birth registers, Spring was used as both a boy and a girl’s name.  Spring William Oakes was born in 1879 in Brighton, whilst Spring Rosa Cattermole was born in Suffolk in 1860.

    Unusual forenames appearing in your family?  They could have been inspired by other family members, or perhaps events which happened near their birth, or in this case, the seasons.  Dig deeper to find out the history behind these names!

  8. Spring clean your family history

    Today at our headquarters in Kent the sun is streaming in!  So why not be inspired by the good weather to dust off your family history files, and have another crack at those “brick walls”?

    Sometimes sitting tight on research and taking stock before revisiting it at a later time can work wonders.  Those ancestors which were so elusive may come out of the cracks, perhaps with an inspired guess at a surname variant a clergyman or transcriber may have inadvertently used, for example.

    Alternatively, if those brick walls are proving hard to bring down, contact us today for a one-to-one chat with a genealogist.



May 2016
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