News and Blog

The latest news and information from the Achievements team.

  1. Adil Ray – Who Do You Think You Are?

    Adil Ray  best known as the writer and star of Citizen Khan identifies traces his mixed Asian and African ancestry across Kenya to Uganda. On the trail of rumours of a link to African royalty, Adil meets African relatives for the first time in the traditional kingdom of Buganda and is amazed to discover the truth about his lineage.

  2. Family names in genealogy

    Genealogists will often find that naming patterns are much more prominent in their ancestry that in more modern generations.  The same forenames were often passed down to each generation in turn, be it the more usual John and William, or perhaps more unusual forenames.  Indeed, it can be such naming patterns which can help prove a family tree, when other evidence is missing.

    During recent research in the parish of Felsted, Essex, one of our genealogists came across several interesting forenames repeated in the family being researched.  In particular, the forename Esdras appeared in the late eighteenth century, and was in almost every generation back to the early 1600s.  This intriguing name is a Latin version of the biblical Ezra, and it was clearly important to the family to pass this name on.

    A later Esdras at Felsted was married to a lady named Summers, and the couple passed her forename on to their own daughter.  Whilst Esdras was a biblical name, it was likely that Summers was named for a maternal surname in her family tree, for this is more usually found as a surname.

    Another example of a surname being used as a forename is the instance in the neighboring parish of Stebbing, Essex, of the baptism of Loveday Chopping in 1771.  Loveday is more usually found as a surname, and again had clearly been passed down as a forename as a memorial of a branch of the family.

    So if you have any more unusual forenames in your family history, investigate further and see how long they have been present, and where they may have originated!

  3. 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.

  4. Festive surnames

    Genealogist Liz Yule is used to festive jokes about her surname, but Yule is just one of a number of seasonal surnames that exist.  Christmas is of course the most festive example, particularly when coupled with the forename Mary.  But how about Bell, White or Snow?  Or those representing festive blooms, such as Ivy.

    Forenames can also be festive.  Our searchers have found two births registered with the forename Mistletoe, for example: Mistletoe Ellis was born in 1906 in Hampshire, whilst Mistletoe Spencer was born in 1910 in Doncaster.

    If you have festive or unusual names in your family tree, why not contact us to find out about researching your ancestry.

  5. Cobbler or shoemaker?

    Nineteenth century genealogical records often reveal an ancestor to working as a shoemaker, or cordwainer.  But where does this work originate, and what was the difference between a cobbler and a shoemaker?

    The term cobbler originally applied only to those repairing footwear, rather than boot or shoemakers. The term for a shoemaker was more usually cordwainer, which was taken from the Spanish word cordovan, a goatskin leather produced in Cordova, in Spain. Mechanised large scale production of shoes began in the 1850’s which began the decline of the shoemaking craft.

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