52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks - Week 2 - A Favourite Find

Week 2 of this challenge is already upon me, time flies when you’re having fun! The subject this week is a Favourite Find and in my case this is not a person or an important breakthrough of a brick wall but is actually a medium sized rather dusty cardboard box. A few years ago my uncle passed on to my father this rather tatty looking cardboard box to me which he had been given by their cousin. The box had been stored away in her loft since she had cleared out her mother’s house after she died in 1995. Her mother was my great Aunt Mary, my grandmother’s sister. With some trepidation I opened this dusty box – or should that be treasure chest – to find a family’s entire history in the form of photographs, letters, birth certificates, school certificates and assorted documents telling the story of this middle class Edwardian family from the mid 1880s through to the end of the First World War. With wonder I carefully emptied the box sorting the various items into separate piles marvelling a

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks - Week 1 Foundations

I have been very lax over the last year in keeping up to date with my blog so I have decided to be more pro-active this year and have taken up Amy Johnson-Crow’s challenge of trying to write something every week. I have signed up to her ’52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks’ challenge. Every week she suggests a theme to use to write something relating to your family history and this week’s theme is Foundations. I initially thought about relating the story of the person who started me on my family history journey, the Rev Robert Cunningham, but that would be a repeat of the post I wrote in September 2020 so instead I have decided to write about my 3 times great grandfather, William Armstrong, as this is as far back as I have got with this particular branch of my family so is the foundation of my research so far. Here’s what I know so far:- William was born around 1814 in the county of Roxburghshire, in the Scottish Borders. I think he was the son of William Armstrong and Helen Liddle but am still e

Location, Location, Location

 Firstly an apology to anyone out there who actually takes the time and trouble to read these. It has been a while since I have managed to write anything and I have no excuse for this, just a case of not enough hours in the day! When I started my family history journey, I naively assumed that most of my ancestors would be found in a small area in and around the Central Belt of Scotland. My Dad was a proud Glaswegian and my Mum was from the Falkirk area. On my wife's side I assumed her family would all be centred around Sheffield and the surrounding area. How wrong I was! Both families have been spread far and wide across the globe, from Scotland to Australia and North America and from Yorkshire to South America. Even those families that stayed within the UK have moved over the years. My Dad's family didn't come to the Glasgow area until the late 1870s when my great great grandfather took up the ministry in Rutherglen. Before that they had lived in a small village, Kirkcolm,

Love and Marriage

It’s that time of year when thoughts turn to love and romance. The shops (those that are open) are full of hearts and cards professing true love and there are the usual ‘romantic’ gifts available – yes it’s Valentine’s Day. Marriages are one of those key vital pieces of the family history jigsaw and help the family historian to expand the branches of their ever growing family tree. It is hoped that our ancestors all married for love and that every wedding was a happy and joyous event shared by family and friends alike but this was not always the case. My Grandparents' Wedding 1935 Looking back over the registers and certificates a pattern begins to emerge as to when and why couples got married. A number of mine and my wife’s ancestors married at Easter or at Christmas, either on Christmas Day or Boxing Day. When you look at the records you start to see that they were either in service or in occupations which meant that they got very little time off so had to take advantage when the

52 ancestors in 52 weeks

I have been a little bit lazy about my blog over the last few weeks – I blame Christmas – but I thought to give myself some impetus to blog more regularly I would attempt to meet the challenge set by Amy Johnson Crow to write something every week based on her themes set in 52 Ancestors in 52 weeks. Week 1’s theme is Beginnings. I previously wrote in my opening blog ‘How Did This All Begin?’ about my reasons for starting to research my family history so I thought I would talk about how I would advise someone else to get started.  A question I have been asked by friends and colleagues regarding researching family history is where do I start? The advice I was given early on was to start with yourself. Write down everything you know about yourself, your parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, siblings etc. The first thing I did was to try and flesh out a basic family tree of my immediate family and build from there. The second thing to do is ask! Talk to family members and try and fill in

Two sad deaths

  The third person in my series on Remembrance is Lance Corporal George Anderson. George was my wife’s first cousin twice removed and was born in Sheffield in 1889.   George was a labourer, married with two children when war broke out in August 1914. The family lived in the Shalesmoor area of Sheffield, just off Penistone Road.   George enlisted in the 7 th Battalion, East Yorkshire Regiment on 11 th September 1914, barely a month after war was declared. He was part of a wave of enthusiastic enlistment by thousands of men at a time when everyone was saying the war would be over by Christmas.   According to his service record, George was based in England up to 12 th July 1915, when the battalion was sent overseas and took up positions in the Ypres Salient. The battalion was part of 50 th Brigade, 17 th Northern Division.   George must have been a good soldier and was promoted to Lance Corporal, in the field, on 18 th February 1916.   During the spring of 1916,

Mother and her boys

  At 11 am on the 11 th Day of the 11 th month the guns fell silent and the fighting was over. The war to end all wars, The Great War, was over. Every year, people gather at war memorials, grave sites, battlefields, in churches and places of worship to fall silent for 2 minutes to remember all those killed in all conflicts.   Probably every family historian will have a family member who served, fought or died in the First World War, certainly in the UK. Cities, towns and villages lost a generation on the blood soaked battlefields of the Western Front but also across the world in what was the first truly global war, fought on an industrial scale with all the new technology of a industrial world.   Over the next few weeks I am going to try and tell the stories of just a few of these brave men who fought and died for their country.   I start with the story of two brothers, born into a colonial, middle class Victorian family who died within 17 days of each other in August 1918 duri