News and Blog

The latest news and information from the Achievements team.

  1. Family history day course “The Parish and the Manor”

    It is not too late to enroll on our sister organisation The Institute of Heraldic and Genealogical Studies’ day course, “The Parish and the Manor”.  It is running this Saturday 1st October from 10.30 to 4.30, and is held at our headquarters in Canterbury.

    Topics which will be covered include parish records, being churchwardens records, vestry minutes and records of the poor, as well as those documents compiled by the manor and the manorial courts.  This course is a must for any family historian seeking to extend their knowledge of the subject, and find out what records are available and where they can be accessed.

    Further information, including how to book, can be found here.

  2. 32 family members named in a will . . . .

    Wills and other probate records can be invaluable to genealogists, particularly when family members from across a county, or even country, are named.  This can allow the family history trail to diverge in previously unknown directions, perhaps finding the marriages and burials of family members some distance from where the rest of the family lived.

    One of our researchers this week was completing research on a Ridley family of Surrey, when she came across a will in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury naming some thirty-two family members.  Elvy Ridley died in the 1840s, and clearly did not have any surviving children, and had outlived his wife.


    However, he was keen to divide his estate fairly between his wider family, which was extremely useful from a genealogical point of view.  He recorded his family in an ordered fashion, dividing them into his nieces and nephews from his different siblings, including recording who was still living.  Married surnames were given for the women, as well as where each nephew and niece was then living.  Thus an extensive family tree could be drawn up, and then research could follow each niece and nephew to further extend the family tree.  Without the evidence from the will, further research would have been much more time consuming, and family relationships may have remained probable only.  A good find during this research!

  3. Professional Family History Research

    Are you thinking of engaging a professional genealogist?  There can be lots of advantages to doing this, from ensuring that a correct line is traced, to being able to access genealogical records not available online.

    There is a wealth of genealogical sources available online, but shifting through what is relevant to your family line can be difficult.  This is particularly the case when dealing with widespread surnames such as Smith and Jones.  It is essential to provide proof that every stage of research is correct.  For example, when looking for a John Jones born in Cardiff, it is extremely likely that there will be more than one candidate of the right age, and so proofs that the right Jones family is being traced is essential.

    Professional genealogists have years of experience in the field, and usually possess a qualification in genealogy, such as those offered by the Institute of Heraldic and Genealogical Studies (the Higher Certificate or Diploma in Genealogy) or from the University of Strathclyde.  If you are thinking of commissioning a professional genealogist to undertake research on your family tree, or to verify research already undertaken, why not contact us today to see how we can help.

  4. AGRA conference last weekend

    Our Principal Dr Richard Baker attended the AGRA (Association of Genealogists and Researchers in Archives) conference this weekend at St John’s College, Cambridge, entitled “Demolishing Brick Walls”.  A thoroughly enjoyable event, covering diverse aspects of genealogy, his favourite talk was by John Titford, which was called “Barking up the wrong tree”. It exposed the dangers of researching the wrong family tree, a trap that many family historians can fall into.

    Other highlights included Rebecca Probert’s “The rise and fall of the crime of Bigamy” and Debbie Kennett’s “DNA demystified”.  We all look forward to the next AGRA conference.

  5. The heat of a medieval building

    Soaring temperatures in Kent this week have left staff here at Achievements a bit hot!  The temperature in the care this morning read 20 degrees, and it was not even 8 am.  However, the advantages of working in a medieval building have really come into their own.  Whilst our headquarters has a Georgian frontage, the main section of  the building dates from the 13th century, and is timber frame, with the walls made from wattle and daub.

    As such, it is a very good place to be in extreme heat, and the building remains cool.  This is definitely an advantage this week, but come winter, it is difficult to effectively heat such a large, old building!

  6. New free Irish General Register Office records online

    Yesterday was an exciting day in the genealogical world: Irish General Registration records became available online for free, via the website  Not just the indexes, but the images of these records as well.  Beforehand, once a likely indexed entry had been found, the documents itself had to be ordered from the relevant authorities.

    Now however, birth certificates for over 100 years ago, marriages for over 75 years ago, and deaths for over 50 years ago, are available to search and view online, at no cost.  Officially these are being launched tonight, although the search engine already appears to be up and running.

    And what a boon to research in Ireland this will be!  This is particularly the case when researching widespread surnames, where you may have found several possible birth certificates.  Instead of laboriously, and at some cost, ordering each certificate to see if it is relevant, it will be available online, at no cost.

    The search engine appears relatively easy to navigate, and we all look forward to tracing Irish family history in the future!

  7. The surname Poldark . . . . ?

    The epic adaptation of the Winston Graham novels about Ross Poldark has, finally, come back to our televisions on Sunday nights.  Set in Cornwall, they portray brooding Ross Poldark’s shenanigans with his mine business, and relationships.

    But what of the surname Poldark?  Is it really a Cornish name?  Well no, is the short answer.  Searches of records of General Registration for the 19th century do not find one reference to the surname whatsoever, in Cornwall or otherwise.

    Similarly, searches of the International Genealogical Index, being transcripts of registers of parishes across every county in England, reveals no reference to the surname at all.  The closest to the surname are some sixteenth century isolated examples of variants including Poltord, Poltrid and Paltork.

    A similar situation emerges when considering the surname of Ross Poldark’s arch rival, George Warleggan.  Warleggan just does not appear as a surname within modern genealogical sources, or indeed within the International Genealogical Index.  Variants that do emerge include Worlech, Worlock and Warling, although it appears that in the end both Warleggan and Poldark were created for Graham’s books.



September 2016
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