News and Blog

The latest news and information from the Achievements team.

  1. Huguenot Ancestors

    There are many records we can use to trace Huguenot ancestors that are unique to them. For example,  a témoignage was a certificate enabling a Huguenot to join another church. The témoignage was given to the church member when leaving the congregation and acted as a character reference for entry to the new church. Where they survive they give details essential for family history research such as the full name of the individual, names of children and spouse, sometimes the maiden surnames of wives or widows, which individual or congregation gave the témoignage and the date it was presented. In the case of teenage children, their age is usually mentioned as well as the name of a parent. They are very useful, especially when searching for a gateway ancestor and their arrival in Britain and where they originated from.

  2. Libeahthe . . . is this Elizabeth or Liberty?

    Whilst undertaking some family history research in Somerset this week, one of our genealogists chanced across a baptism with a very unusual forename. Spelling variants are by no means unusual within parish registers, particularly when so many people were illiterate and would not have been able to correct the clergyman recording the information, although in this case it was a little unclear what name was meant.

    The baptism of one child, in 1785, seems to have foxed the person the recording the information and “Libeahthe” was recorded.

    Was this the minister’s spelling of the unusual forename Liberty, which he wasn’t sure how to spell? Or was the name Elizabeth being attempted but he was having an off day? Was he interrupted whilst recording the baptism, or were the parents clear that this was the name they meant?  For now, clearly more research is required in the parish register to ascertain her forename!


  3. Address please? “Pudding Bag”

    Our searchers this week have been focusing on Leicestershire family history, and several census returns and other sources show an intriguing address of “Pudding Bag”, or “Puddingbag” in the parish of Blaby.


    There are suggestions that this could represent a dialect word for a cul-de-sac, although no ideas put forward of how this name came about. In fact, further investigation finds this address name still represented in modern day Leicestershire with Pudding Bag Lane in Kings Norton and Shepshed, as well as in Thuralston in Warwickshire, Pilsgate in Lincolnshire,  and Exton in Rutland.

    And the feature which links them all? They are all cul-de-sacs.

  4. Still struggling for a Christmas present?

    Are you still struggling to think of something special to give that someone special for Christmas? Do they have everything including the kitchen sink, and you don’t know what to get them?

    Why not think of giving them their family history for Christmas. Family history research is a unique gift to give a loved one, and one that they can keep forever, and pass on to other family members.

    Contact us today to find out more about our Christmas gift certificates.

  5. A perfect gift for Christmas

    Are you stuck for a gift idea for a loved one this Christmas?  Someone who is hard to buy for, or seems to have everything? Well worry no more, for why give them a gift certificate to have their family history traced for Christmas.  This is a truly unique present, and one that they will remember forever.

    We provide a stylish A4 certificate that can be given on Christmas day, and we can then liaise with them in the New Year to find out their particular areas of interest to start the genealogical investigation.

    Contact us today to find out more about purchasing a gift certificate for family history research for Christmas.

  6. It’s never too early to think of Christmas . . . .

    Tomorrow is the beginning of November, and there is now less than two months to Christmas.  Whilst this may seem a long time, it will just fly by!

    If you are looking for a unique Christmas gift for a loved one, look no further than a bespoke package of family history research. A truly one-off present, something that won’t be replicated by anyone else.

    Click here to contact us to find out more.

  7. Tour of the library

    We are pleased to announce that a virtual tour of the library is now available

    Follow the tour through the library rooms sand see our collection of published pedigrees, pre 1858 will indexes, professional and military lists, trade directories, county holdings and our unique heraldic collection. And so much more.

    Not only is this genealogical and heraldic collection an invaluable resource when we conduct family history research  but it is also open to visitors.

  8. DNA Testing and Genetic Ancestry

    For those in the South East Region ITV Meridian are showing a feature on ancestral DNA testing. The second part of this special will be broadcast tonight, in which Fred Dinenage and Sangeeta Bhabra will have their DNA tested to reveal their genetic roots. Last night the reporter Derek Johnson discussed how many in Kent had Scandinavian roots. His own DNA revealed 10% unknown, 38% Great British, 33% West European [Anglo Saxon], 6% Irish [Celtic] 2% non European [Caucasus] and 11% Scandinavian. Whilst DNA testing is no substitute for family history research it gives a different insight into a persons roots.

  9. Burial in Woollen

    Family history research can often raise questions, not just who was our ancestor! Searching in parish registers we can find terms we are unfamiliar with. For example, have you ever seen the word affidavit in a burial register and wondered what it meant?


    Following the Restoration, Britain’s sheep farmers were producing more wool than was being used and so to address the problem and boost the wool trade, in 1666 the first Act ordering that all bodies had to be buried in a shroud made of woollen cloth was passed.  In 1678 a second Act was passed with more stringent regulations, ordering an affidavit signed by a magistrate to be produced to confirm that a burial had met the necessary requirements. In 1680 a concession was made allowing the affidavit to be signed by a minister. Richer people often chose to flaunt their wealth by ignoring the regulation and choosing to pay the fine for non-compliance.  The fine was in the sum of £5, of which 50% was paid to the informant and the balance to the poor.

    So even the word affidavit in a parish register reveals another detail of how our ancestors lived.

  10. 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.


    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.



January 2019
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