News and Blog

The latest news and information from the Achievements team.

  1. What is a “cess collector”?

    Sometimes an occupation on an historical record can bring you up short. Whilst researching genealogy all sorts of odd terms crop up, and this week it was the occupation of a county “cess collector” on a birth certificate.

    First thoughts turned to sewage, as in the more familiar “cesspit” but that did not feel right for the research.  In fact, the term “cess” is used to mean rate or tax, and comes from the word “assessment”, and so the father of this child was the local rate collector.


  2. Hepzibah . . . or Hepperabath?

    We all know that our ancestors could not spell.  Anyone who has looked at a parish register will have found variants of even the, to us, easiest of names to spell. One of our genealogists today was researching a family in Somerset, with the mother named Hepzibah.  On one of her childrens’ baptisms, in 1751, the clergyman recording the event clearly had trouble with the spelling of Hepzibah’s forename, and recorded it as “Hepperabath”.

    It was unlikely that Hepzibah was able to correct the clergyman when he recorded this in the parish register, if she was illiterate, which was one reason that some many spelling variants appear.

  3. Pick up your family history research this Autumn

    As the nights get longer, and the days shorter, why not think about looking at your family history research once again.  It might be that in the past you have put away research after hitting a proverbial “brick wall”, or simply that other things in life got in the way of completing further research.

    Whatever your research needs, Achievements is here to help.  As professional genealogists, we have many years experience working on all aspects of family history, whether it is sorting out a specific problem, or undertaking in-depth research into a particular family going back several centuries.

    Why not contact us today to find out how we can help you with your genealogical research today.

  4. 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.

  5. Death by . . . .gravel?!

    An intriguing cause of death was found this week by one of our researchers on a Scottish burial record of 1845.  In the “cause of death” column, the word “gravel” was given.  Other people on the same page died of things such as “paralysis” and “consumption”, but what on earth was “gravel”?

    Gravel death description

    In fact, further research suggested that “gravel” was a word for the modern equivalent of kidney stones.  A good example of how family history can always throw up new terms to investigate!

  6. More interesting newspaper records . . .

    Following our post from last week about what type of information can be found in newspapers, here is another snippet.  Whilst researching the Yule family of Scotland, an advert was found for James Yule, selling “Upper Peruvian Guano”.  That certainly wasn’t stated on the census entries for James, who was more usually recorded as a farmer.  Such adverts and newspaper snippets can provide additional information on what occupations our ancestors were practicing, and how they were diversifying their businesses!


    Yule advert

  7. Newspaper records in tracing ancestors

    Family historians will naturally gravitate towards records of General Registration and census returns when tracing nineteenth century ancestors.  These, of course, provide an essential backbone to any family tree, and a framework from which to work.

    It is always interesting to “flesh out” that family tree however, and newspaper records can be a really excellent resource.  As well as including birth, marriage and death notices, full obituaries may be found, detailing an ancestor’s life.  As well as this, advertisements could give clues to businesses which were run by our predecessors, or even if they were caught breaking the law. The results of local quarter and petty sessions were regularly reported on, and it is certainly interesting to see what type of offences were reported by the local newspaper.

    One of our genealogists has traced her own family in newspaper records, the results of which can be viewed here.  From wife abandonment to stealing turnips, newspaper records offer a varied and interesting view of our ancestors lives!

  8. The sun on our medieval headquarters

    Working in a medieval building has it’s challenges, and perks.  This week, notwithstanding last night’s thunderstorms, we have seen some beautiful sunshine.  We thought we would share a photograph of the blue sky above our 14th century timbered building, with some lovely poppies in the foreground.  Long may this weather last!

    If you are local to Canterbury, and would like to come and see our lovely building, and discuss your family history requirements, we would love to show you around.  Click here to contact us today.


    Achievements building

  9. Occupation in census . . . .”concubine”

    Genealogists and researchers will often find odd or unusual occupations within census returns.    One of our searchers this week came across a more unusual occupation when investigating the 1861 census.  Sarah Atkinson of Hull is shown as a “concubine”.  There is no partner present in the household, although there are two children.  She was clearly honest with the census enumerator, which is certainly less usual!

    Sarah Atkinson concubine

  10. Post Office records

    Post Office records date back to the 17th century.  The Postal Museum (previously titled the British Postal Museum and Archive) holds the records.

    The most useful of these for family history research are the Pensions and Gratuities records for Post Office employees, which date from 1719 to 1959. Pensions were awarded to Post Office employees when they retired. Marriage gratuities were awarded to female workers when they left the Post Office and gave up work to get married. Death gratuities were also given to the families of postal workers who died while they were working for the Post Office.

    The information these records may provide includes name, rank, date of birth, years of service, positions held, and amount of pension/gratuity awarded. However, records before 1860 generally only list senior officers, as not every postal worker was entitled to a pension until that year.

    Postal workers in your family tree?  See how we can help you research further by contacting us today.



December 2018
« Nov