News and Blog

The latest news and information from the Achievements team.

  1. Obituaries, death notices and funeral notices.

    Increasingly newspaper records are being indexed and digitised, and these can be really helpful for genealogists.  Family notices can provide information on dates of birth, marriage and death, and obituaries can provide detailed histories of a specific person.

    As well as notices of birth, marriage and death, there were often reports of funerals in local newspapers, which can give a wealth of genealogical information, which may not even be provided in an obituary.  An example here is taken from the Bury Free Press, of 24th December 1932.

    It starts with information on the deceased, including address, age and where they were buried:

    Dorothy information

    And continues with precise details on the family mourners present at the funeral, including sons, married daughters and daughters in law, as well as grandchildren.  Helpfully places are given for those living away from Bury St Edmunds:

    Family mourners

    Additional details from this one funeral notice include a floral tribute from the “broken-hearted” widower:

    Floral Tributes

    Thus, newspaper records in general and funeral reports in particular can be invaluable when looking for additional details regarding our family history.

  2. Odd words in family history . . . . a pightle?

    Odd-sounding words can be found in all sorts of genealogical sources.  From occupations on census returns unrecognisable to us today, such as a puddler (someone who made iron) or ostler (working with horses), to local dialect words found in wills.

    One of our searchers found a more unusual word in a will of an East Anglian ancestor, being the term “pightle”, apparently referring to land.  In fact, this word refers to a small amount of land, being a field or enclosure.  It is particularly used in Norfolk, where the word can be found as the name of a property, or small road.

  3. A stranger in the parish

    If you see the term “stranger” in a parish register this might refer to a Huguenot. Huguenots began arriving in England from the Spanish Netherlands during the reign of Elizabeth I, seeking refuge from persecution. Many settled in Norwich, where they had been invited by the city authorities. Indeed at one time they accounted for a third of the city’s population. Their earliest church was established in 1550 at Threadneedle Street. After the Revoking of the Edict of Nantes in 1685 by Louis XIV of France, their numbers increased and it is thought that about 50,000 Huguenots arrived in England. So many of us may have Huguenots in our family trees. They brought with them new skills, especially in weaving (particularly silk), gold and silversmithing, clockmaking, furniture making, printing bookbinding and papermaking. Whilst the term strangers fell out of use as they established themselves in England, the legacy of the term “stranger” can still be seen in street signs and buildings. For example there is a Stranger’s Lane in Canterbury and the Mayors house Norwich is called Stranger’s Hall.

  4. Want to find out more on manorial records?

    Our sister organisation the Institute of Heraldic and Genealogical Studies is running a course to further knowledge about the “Parish and the Manor”, on 1st October 2016.  This will be a full day course, based at our headquarters in Canterbury.  The focus will be on sources associated with the parish, such as churchwardens accounts and records of the poor, as well as manorial records.

    Further information, including price and timings, can be found here.

  5. Family history based comedy at Canterbury Festival

    Ever wondered about a family history based comedy routine?  Well now you don’t have to, as Mark Steel brings his show “Mark Steel: Who Do I Think I Am” to the Canterbury Festival this year.  Based on his experiences of finding out about his birth parents, this is surely not to be missed by any genealogist fans of comedy.  The Festival guide describes it as “a surprising and enthralling story” and we cannot wait!

    The show is being held on 30th October at The King’s School in Canterbury, and further information can be found on the Festival website here.

  6. Celebrations of achievement at IHGS Awards Day

    Saturday 30th July saw the rain hold off enough long enough for a lovely lunchtime and early afternoon of presentations to successful candidates who had taken the Institute of Heraldic and Genealogical Studies examinations.  These included the Certificate, Higher Certificate and Diploma in Genealogy.  As well as this, the prestigious Bickersteth Medal was awarded to Elizabeth Roads, in honour of her distinguished career in heraldry in Scotland.  She is Lyon Clerk and Keeper of the Records of the Court of the Lord Lyon, and further information on the awarding of this Medal can be found here.

    A selection of photographs illustrates the wonderful day which was had by all.


    Dr Richard Baker and the Earl of Lytton present Elizabeth Roads with the Bickersteth Medal.

    DSC_3995Successful candidates in the Diploma in Genealogy.


    All the successful students who were presented with awards.


    IHGS tutor Les Mitchinson with some of his successful students.

    P1000874A good lunch was provided, with strawberries and cream for pudding!



August 2016
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