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Thursday, 30 August 2012

The Genealogist’s New All-in-One Search

Great news for family historians! has launched a brand new all-in-one search feature, which allows users to do a ‘single search’ across the website. The new all-in-one interface also incorporates the unique and powerful ‘keyword’ search. This is the first time that these two features have been brought together to aid research.

Now you can enter an ancestor's name along with an approximate year of birth and the option of keywords to trace their life through the records, from birth to census, marriage and more. ‘Address Lists’ are also included so you can view other residents and any other potential family links.

Mark Bayley, Head of the Online Division at TheGenealogist, feels the new search facility is an exciting new development:
‘Customers will get a much deeper insight into their ancestors in a fraction of the time. They’ll be able to find everything we know about someone almost instantly with a single linked master search'.

'This is a powerful tool not currently available elsewhere. TheGenealogist is all about user-friendly searches, not just records and this new feature further enhances what we offer… it’s now quicker and easier than ever with our new All-In-One Search’.

On the left are some sample results for an all-in-one search for ‘Gideon Tucker’ plus ‘Shaftesbury’, © theGenealogist, so you can see the type of results available – over half of century of his life is revealed.

I searched for one of my ancestors, Samuel Pickvance, and got some very interesting census results straightaway.

Growing Up at Work

If you search through the censuses for your ancestors , you may be surprised at how early youngsters were expected to work, compared with the present day. When my great-grandfather, William Kirkwood Dickman, was fourteen years old, he was a coach-painter’s apprentice in Gorton (1871 census). According to later censuses, when he grew up he continued working as a railway coach painter, and his death certificate in 1931 gives his occupation as railway coach painter.

Another ancestor, my great-great-grandfather Arthur Lomas, born in Alstonefield, Staffordshire, was a child silk worker – a ‘silk picker’ - he cleaned loose fibres from the warp threads for the weaver. Arthur, aged 12 at the time of the 1881 census, lived in Leek with his parents. He was a ‘half-timer’, i.e. he went to school for half a day, and worked the rest of the day.
Some of my other Lancashire ancestors worked in the county's famous industries, cotton and coal mining. My great-grandmother, Sarah Jane Pickvance, was a ‘sheet weaver’ at Farnworth when she was fifteen years old in 1881. In the same year, my great-grandfather John Richard Tudge (who later married Sarah) was a coal miner in Little Hulton; he was fifteen years old, too.

John was lucky to be born later in the century; the the 1842 Children's Employment Commissioners found children as young as five working in Lancashire pits. The 1842 Mines Act banned boys under ten, and all females, from mine work.

Images from the author’s collection:
A Spitalfields weaver weaving silk by hand in the 1880s. Engraving, unknown artist, Cassell’s Family Magazine, 1883.
A disused miners’ cage (lift) at Astley Green Colliery Museum.
This early twentieth century postcard shows a cotton weaving shed and a Lancashire lass in her holiday finery.

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Beautiful Butterflies

The garden is really behind-hand this year with all the poor weather - our plum tree has suffered, and the few plums on it have only just started to ripen.

Our buddleia is flowering at last, and today I spotted a red admiral butterfly and lots of peacock butterflies, obviously making the most of it. The slugs and snails are doing well in the garden, though!

Thursday, 16 August 2012

It's Peterloo time again

It's now over three years since my blog post that a permanent memorial was planned for the Peterloo victims.  The Peterloo Massacre Campaign has erected a temporary memorial today, not just to mark the occasion, but as a reminder to the council that the ordinary men, women and children who died that day- who were all attending a pro-democracy meeting, remember - still have no monument worthy of their sacrifice.

Image: Henry Hunt addressing the people of Manchester in 1819.  Cassell’s Illustrated History of England Vol. VI, (Cassell, Petter and Galpin, c.1864). Author's collection.

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Our Shetland Adventure II

Shetland is a great place for island-hopping, and one of our most memorable trips was a visit to Unst, where there were lots of friendly Shetland ponies waiting to greet us. When all females, and boys under ten years old were banned from working in Britain's mines in 1842, Shetland ponies were often used instead to haul coal wagons underground.

On mainland Shetland, we explored the ancient settlements of Jarlshof and Old Scatness. Jarlshof was occupied for thousands of years: Bronze Age and Iron Age people, Vikings and Picts, and there was a manor house built by Robert Stewart, 1st Earl of Orkney. 

Not far from Jarlshof is Old Scatness, a Bronze Age village discovered when a new road was being built to Sumburgh airport. Costumed (and extremely knowledgeable) guides help interpret this wonderful site for visitors, which contains one of the massive brochs so prevalent on Shetland.

They must have been of major importance for the peoples who inhabited these islands long, long ago.

Images: Shetland ponies © Nigel Wilkes

Jarlshof and Old Scatness © Sue Wilkes.

Monday, 6 August 2012

Our Shetland Adventure

In July we enjoyed a very exciting week on Shetland - we’ve wanted to visit the islands for years, as they abound with wonderful wildlife and some of the UK’s most amazing historical sites.

On our very first morning, we saw two wild otters playing along the shoreline at Houss Ness – a really magical moment!
We stayed at a cottage on the roadside at Leebitton, and had a sea view. Often, when I went to put the kettle on, I could see seals swimming about outside! There was a little family of eider ducks, too, and they were out and about most days, keeping close to the shore for safety.
One of the highlights of our holiday was a ferry trip to the island of Mousa and its huge ancient and mysterious broch. As we climbed up the broch’s narrow stairs, we could hear the plaintive ‘clucking’ of storm petrels as they nestled inside its walls.

Who were the broch builders? Was it a defensive structure? Historians are still guessing…

Eider ducks at Sandwick.
Mousa Broch.
The author trying very hard not to fall off Mousa Broch.
One of the hundreds of friendly puffins at Sumburgh Head nature reserve.

© Sue and Nigel Wilkes.