News and Blog

The latest news and information from the Achievements team.

  1. 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.

  2. Focus on . . . trade directories

    Trade directories and family history research

    The earliest British trade directory was a list of London merchants published in 1677.  The next London directory appeared in 1734, and thereafter at least one directory of London has been published in each year to the present day, although some no longer exist.  Directories for areas outside London did not appear until the end of the 17th century.

    From 1800 onwards the Post Office London directories were issued, but there were several companies which produced excellent guides, historical, statistical and topographical.  Among the most informative are those by William White, Kelly & Co.,and Pigot & Co.

    For genealogists, trade directories can be useful in tracing the business interests and premises of a family, and establishing when a son took over from his father, for example.  In later years a “private residents” section was included within trade directories, of the more prominent local residents.

    As well as showing where and when our ancestors’ businesses were operating, they also provide a contemporary description of a town or parish, often including information on the local economy, places of worship, transport links and schools.  As such they can invaluable to the genealogist when completing family history research.WP_20160414_09_47_41_Pro[1]

  3. Local dialect surnames

    As all genealogists will have found, family surnames were often spelled in a variety of ways.  Spelling simply was not consistent, even into the twentieth century, and widespread illiteracy compounded this in earlier generations: normal working people would not have been able to confirm the spelling of their surnames to the authorities.

    Spellings may be so inconsistent, some imagination may be needed to connect them. Equally, saying the surname aloud in a local dialect may help matters.

    Whilst researching a Reynolds family from Norfolk, a baptism was found in the parish registers of one James “Rannells”.  It was exactly correct based on date and place when compared to census records.  But how to explain the spelling variant?  Indeed, saying “Reynolds” in a broad Norfolk accent renders it very similar to “Rannells”.  Perhaps the local clergyman had recently graduated from Oxford or Cambridge, and simply had not yet gotten used to the local accent.

    Having trouble with spelling variants?  Try saying the surnames in the local dialect, and see how many variants you can find!

  4. Interested in heraldry?

    Are you interested in heraldry and would like to find out how it can help with your own family history research?  Our sister organisation the Institute of Heraldic and Genealogical Studies is running a day course on heraldry on Saturday 20th February 2016.

    To find out more, and for cost and booking details, click here.

    Alternatively, if you are unable to visit Canterbury, why not contact our research team to see how we can help you investigate the heraldic aspects of your family history.  Click here to contact us for advice and a free quote.

  5. Genealogy Christmas gifts

    There is still time to commission family history research in time for this Christmas.  What more unique gift could your loved one receive on Christmas day, than the history of their family?  We can undertake research based on as much, or as little, information as you know about the family, to create an unforgettable Christmas present.

    Contact us to find out more, and for a free quote.

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

    It’s never too early to think of Christmas presents! As the nights start drawing in, it might be that thoughts start turning to Christmas, and what unique presents to get.

    Having your family tree researched is a unique gift to give to family members, so why not get ahead of the game, and contact us to see what we can offer. Family history research can take several weeks to undertake, so do not delay in contacting us for a free quotation well in time for Christmas.

    Alternatively, we can provide a Christmas Gift Certificate, to give your loved one on Christmas Day itself, and we can then work with them to complete the research, based on the information that they know.

  7. Scottish genealogy at a glance

    Scottish research can be similar to tracing families in England and Wales, with General Registration records of birth, marriage and death, together with census returns creating the basis for nineteenth and early twentieth century research.

    As in England and Wales, the latest census available to genealogists with Scottish ancestry is the 1911 census.  Later enumerations are governed by one hundred year confidentiality rulings.  Once a family has been found here, they can be tracked back using earlier decennial census returns.

    Alongside census records, General Registration birth, marriage and death certificates are also available for Scottish research. Unlike England and Wales, Scottish General Registration only began in 1855, rather than 1837.  However, this is somewhat made up for in the level of detail given within Scottish certificates.

    In England and Wales, only the father’s name is given on a marriage certificate, whilst Scottish marriage records also include the mother’s forename and maiden surname.  Likewise, with Scottish death records both parents names are given for the deceased.  This is particularly useful, as English and Welsh records do not include this information on a death certificate, which can make the death of one John Jones hard to distinguish from another John Jones living in the same place.

    Prior to General Registration and the first census of 1841, Old Parish Registers, or OPRs, are the next genealogical resource to consider in Scotland.  These are records of the Established Church, and the particularly useful aspect of OPRs is that they have most been indexed and digitised.  Thus relatively comprehensive searches can be made for the whole country of surviving Church of Scotland records, whereas in England and Wales indexing of Anglican parish registers can be patchy.

    New to genealogy?  Why not contact us for assistance on your Scottish ancestry.

  8. What is the meaning of our company name?

    Our company name, Achievements, which we have been known by for more than half a century was devised as a play on words.

    Every family tree that we produce is the result of thoughtful analysis, careful planning and meticulous research. Each and every one is indeed an achievement!

    But the word “achievement” has another meaning, too. Achievements was constituted as the research arm of the Institute of Heraldic and Genealogical Studies – and heraldry is implied in our title, for an achievement is the proper term for a display of the coat of arms together with all the other heraldic accoutrements of an armigerous gentleman.

    So, our name Achievements connotes in a single word both of our principal research activities.

  9. More census transcript errors – who is Hornet Dicks?

    Genealogists and family historians come across census errors in census transcripts as a matter of course.  An interesting transcription of “Hornet Dicks” attracted the eye of one of our researchers this week.  She was living with George Dicks in Wiltshire.

    Surely her name could not be Hornet?  We investigated further, and saw that the original rendered the name as follows:

    hornet dicks

    What had clearly happened was that a sloppily written Harriet had been mis-transcribed as Hornet.  Whilst not very clear, we do wonder how the transcriber came up with Hornet rather than Harriet!

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