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Family History Thread

Over the years, Lifers have shared interesting bits of their family history with the rest of us, and I thought a family history thread where these stories could in future be gathered together might be useful. I’ll kick it off…

I have a shameful secret to share. Although I was born in Charlton, my London ancestors came from further west. Places like Peckham, Rotherhithe, and yes, I hesitate to admit, Bermondsey! One of my uncles was a Spanner :(

Researching family history has taken me to some interesting records – not just the ship-builders of Rotherhithe, the leather workers of Bermondsey, and barometer makers of Borough, but also – sadly – to Victorian debtors’ prisons, workhouses, industrial schools and lunatic asylums. Sometimes you find more than you bargained for…

My latest researches in SE London, in collaboration with a cousin (a Brighton Seagull), have unearthed a Dickensian amalgam of the Trotters and Steptoe & Son, with a touch of EastEnders – father and son James and Thomas Judd. (And although this story pre-dates the foundation of Charlton Athletic, I bet they knew the times of every train rumbling over the viaduct in and out of London Bridge, for reasons which should become apparent.)

In brief, James Judd was born in Ireland c.1820-30 and arrived about the time of the Potato Famine in a notoriously crime-ridden corner of Newington, where he met his future wife Mary Daly. He became a tanner, and then set up business in one of the hundreds of Rotherhithe railway arches as a fish manure maker, the revolting stench from which was a great nuisance for about two decades in the neighbourhood (just up-line from the current site of the Toolbox!). After his wife died, James lived in a nearby arch, where he was nearly killed in 1896 by Thomas William Elliott, the man his daughter Catherine was living with, who beat James round the head with a coal shovel. (Details in https://www.oldbaileyonline.org/browse.jsp?id=t18970111-name-290&div=t18970111-154#highlight)

I did come across one Charlton reference while researching injunctions against Judd’s fish manure business – an 1894 complaint from Lee District that Rotherhithe was dumping parish refuse in the Charlton Chalk Pits. Might this be the site which 25 years later became The Valley @CharltonAthMuseum ? In which case, the unusable residue from James’ manure making may still lie deep beneath our pitch, having been fly-tipped there!

Son Thomas Judd trained as a leather finisher, but later drove the horse & van (not a 3-wheeler…) collecting rotting fish offal and selling the manure. Multiple newspaper articles between 1874 and 1896 reporting police court proceedings show fish manure was not the only thing the family sold – Thomas had a side-line in stolen goods, and was not above doing a bit of warehouse burglary himself. Thomas’ brothers James jnr., William and Joseph Judd were also light-fingered in their youth, although not charged as often as he was.

In 1889 Thomas was convicted of breaking and entering a leather dresser’s warehouse, stealing a set of harness and 380 sheepskins worth £40, and sentenced to 5 years penal servitude. In 1894 he and his father were charged with working a pair of unfit, lame horses. James was fined and promised to have the aged horses destroyed. In 1896 Thomas was bound over to keep the peace for allegedly hitting his sister in the face after she gave evidence against him. A fortnight later he was sentenced to a year’s hard labour for theft of two horse-vans worth £55.

No wonder the Greenwich J.P. Mr Kennedy described them as “a terrible family”!

Illegality, illegitimacy, illiteracy, insolvency, incest, insanity – you can choose your friends but not your relatives, and must be prepared to discover skeletons if family history is your hobby. I can now add the criminal justice and penal systems to my opening list of Victorian institutions.

My cousin and I wonder if any living descendants of James Judd snr., his sons James jnr., William, Thomas and Joseph, or their sisters Ann, Mary, Hannah, Catherine and Margaret, would be interested in reading more about our findings and sharing their knowledge of the family. Surnames we have linked to this Judd family by marriage include Alder, Arnold, Baulch, Boot, Catford, Leahy, Marks, Maybee, Sackett, Thurbon, Turner, Warren, Williamson. The most “recent” direct descendant we have definitely identified is Thomas’ youngest son Stanley Judd who lived in Peckham / Lewisham, and died childless nearly 40 years ago in 1979.

I would be pleased to hear ideas from Lifers how to trace forwards to living descendants, as we are struggling to make progress after the 1911 census, by which time some of the family had moved to Essex. WW2 produced further scattering, and most of the SE London roads in which they lived have been redeveloped. Neither my cousin nor I are descended from the Judds, so DNA is not the answer.
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  • My family are in the fortunate position of there being a family history already written.
    About thirty years ago, my aunt got a bit of the genealogy bug and decided to investigate the family history. Just a week into her investigations, she stumbled across a book written in the late 19th century called “The Ormistons of Teviotdale” This is pretty close to our relatively rare surname, so she started to study the book which details family history, the geographic locations of branches of the family etc, then lo and behold, there was a family tree in the book and the final name on one of the branches was my great-grandfather!

    At the end of the day, she continued the family tree and we now have proof that we are descended from such historical characters as Kings of Scotland; Duncan, Malcolm I and Malcolm II.
    But most pleasingly, directly descended from the one and only Alfred the Great.

    :smile:

    Bet the cakes are class in your gaff.
  • iainment said:

    My family are in the fortunate position of there being a family history already written.
    About thirty years ago, my aunt got a bit of the genealogy bug and decided to investigate the family history. Just a week into her investigations, she stumbled across a book written in the late 19th century called “The Ormistons of Teviotdale” This is pretty close to our relatively rare surname, so she started to study the book which details family history, the geographic locations of branches of the family etc, then lo and behold, there was a family tree in the book and the final name on one of the branches was my great-grandfather!

    At the end of the day, she continued the family tree and we now have proof that we are descended from such historical characters as Kings of Scotland; Duncan, Malcolm I and Malcolm II.
    But most pleasingly, directly descended from the one and only Alfred the Great.

    :smile:

    Bet the cakes are class in your gaff.
    I use this as an excuse to avoid doing the cooking...
  • edited December 2018
    My great grandfather was Scottish and my favourite stories are around two of his ancestors, who were Covenanters.

    One of them was passed down the generations and shared in the 1800s by James Gibb, my great x 5 grandfather. The story is of how his own great grandfather survived during “the killing times” in the 1600s. Unlikely to be 100% truthful but more than I’ve found for most family lines going back to that period.

    https://www.rootschat.com/forum/index.php?action=dlattach;topic=569615.0;attach=254292

    Death of a Nonagenarian

    On Sabbath last, a connecting link between the present and long past age, and one who served as an oral traditionary historian was removed by death. Old James Gibb, of Cambusnethan, having nearly completed his ninety third year, has been called away.

    Older people are still living in the neighbourhood, but deceased was reckoned the oldest parishioner, and he was the last member of a large family who figured prominently for many years in the religious world, especially as dissenters from the Church as by law established.

    Mr. Gibb was the father of a large family, twelve in number, and had of descendants 73 grandchildren and 31 great-grandchildren, and at one period of his life, could, in looking back on his progenitors and forward on his offspring, held converse with six generations.

    Born in 1777, during the reign of George III, he has seen four Sovereigns occupy the British throne, and he possessed till very recently a retentive memory that had in early youth been stored with traditional stories from the lips of his grandfather of the ‘Killing Time’, when prelacy held sway, if not over the minds, at least over the bodies of those inhabitants who then thinly populated Vale of Clyde.

    A number of inhabitants of Cambusnethan took up arms against the minions of Government at Drumclog, and were in consequence hunted and harassed by troops sent out to capture the Whig rebels. The incidents to be related will be best understood when given as related by old James Gibb himself.

    “A number of persons belonging to Cambusnethan were at Bothwell, and were in consequence brought to trouble, suffering and loss. One of them was James Gourlay, (his great-grandfather), who tenanted the farm of Overtown. When he perceived that the Covenanters had lost the day, he fled for safety. He was hotly pursued by a few dragoons. In his flight, he found his progress interrupted by the wall which surrounded the policy of the Duke of Hamilton.

    If, by any possibility, he could get over the wall, he was certain to escape the pursuers, but, the difficulty was how to get over. Observing a crevice between two stones in the wall, but too small to admit the point of his toe, he put his hand in his pocket, drew out a clasp knife and stuck it in the crevice, and, putting his foot on it, reared himself, and with one bound cleared the wall, while the bullets from the muskets of his pursuers whizzed past his ears. He fled towards the Clyde, and observing the spreading branch of a tree that hung over the surface of the water he rushed in, and stood till midnight nearly to his neck in water. Under the cloud of night, the fugitive ventured home, but dared not remain, and hid himself in a secluded spot in Garriongill.

    Being assiduously watched, he had many hairbreadth escapes, but was at last taken prisoner by the troops and led off towards Hamilton. At a place near Hamilton, where the Clyde was fordable, was an alehouse. The troopers, having stabled their horses and locked Gourlay in the stables, entered the alehouse to regale themselves and crack jokes over their good fortune in capturing the old Whig. Gourlay had now an opportunity of escaping and he did not lose it. Getting on the back of one of the horses, he reached the timbers, and making a hole in the thatched roof escaped. He dashed through the river, and again took shelter under the tree that saved him when flying from Bothwell. He subsequently reached the hiding-place in Garriongill, but for greater safety, for a while left the country.

    The days of persecution came to an end. The Revolution brought happier times, and James Gourlay improved them. He survived the Revolution twenty-five years, and in 1714, the bones of the aged Covenanter were laid to rest in the old Kirkyard of Cambusnethan, on the banks of the Clyde. “

    Such is a brief outline of the history of a progenitor of the old man who has recently been called to his rest.

    Mr Gibb was universally respected, and has left an aged partner, nine years his junior, to mourn the loss of the husband of her youth, and whose unwavering affection she has enjoyed for the long period of 66 years.
    The remains of old James Gibb were interred on Wednesday last. The principal shops in the village were shut. The church bell (an unusual occurrence) was tolled for half an hour, and the coffin bearing the corpse was followed to the grave by upwards of 200 citizens and friends.

    Reprinted from ‘The Wishaw Advertiser’ November 12th. 1870
  • Can see where the claim to Lordship came from @lordromford. I enjoyed reading that.
    Perhaps I should change my username to Ag.Lab.N01R4M, because right back to the 16th century, that is what most of my ancestors have been!
    I hope the book about your ancestry is more accurate than one written in America in the 19th century about my family name. The writer seemed determined to link my surname to a noble family, where no such link exists.

    @McBobbin, I’m so glad your family can laugh at the discovery about your naughty ancestor. The Christmas mail today has brought me confirmation that a tale I first heard 15+ years ago, that my great-grandmother ran off with her husband’s brother, was untrue – it was actually his brother-in-law! From shortly after he was widowed, they lived together as man & wife for 19 years, eventually marrying when she was 69 and he was 70, after her husband, my great-grandfather died. I’m just so sad that Mum did not live long enough to hear this news, because I know it would have tickled her.

    How lucky you are @Scoham that such a vivid piece of your family’s oral history has survived, and thank you for sharing it. I’m sure it has kindled your interest in the historical circumstances surrounding it.

    My current problem is that I am used to tracing family lines backwards or sideways, but the same techniques are not working so well trying to trace forwards over the past 100 years.
    I know every ancestor had 2 parents, each of whom had 2 parents, etc. Working forwards, there is no certainty how many offspring a couple had, and whether or not they went on to have children! Also, Sod’s Law, it is the less usual surnames which seem to peter out, leaving me wading through far too many references to names like Turner and Williamson for me to easily filter out the ones who are irrelevant! If anyone has a possible solution to this problem, I would be delighted to hear it.
  • Frank Woolley the Kent & England cricketer was my great uncle.
  • All works out if your dad's who his meant to be
  • @N01R4M DNA is worth a go, the most common test is an autosomal test which covers all family lines. It’s a Y DNA test that only covers the direct male line. Ancestry has the largest database and you can take your data from there and upload to some of the other DNA sites to find more cousin matches.

    With DNA you of course need to be prepared that you might find out something unexpected.

    I have a great x 2 grandmother that was born in England to Irish parents. They moved to Mitcham from County Cork around a similar time to yours, during or just after the potato famine. I have DNA matches clearly from that line, and with some of the more recent ones I know how they’re related. Others are a bit more distantly related and the lack of Irish records (that I’ve found so far) mean I can’t work out where they fit in. It’s worthwhile continuing to check your DNA matches, you never know when someone may take a test and that link could help you find the answer you need.
  • Thanks @Scoham . I have no Y-chromosome, and no close male relative from the same male line, so that makes things more difficult for me!

    My cousin is male, but his connection to the Judds is via the sister of his great-grandmother. It was the sister we were originally researching (she was also my grandfather's first cousin) & she married into this family of Judds. So again there is no Y-chromosome link. There might be a possibility via mitochondrial DNA, (I would need to sit down with a sheet of paper & plot things out for my cousin and myself and the sister who married a Judd, to be sure!) but as you say, it is the Y-DNA which is most used for family history matching.

    So quite aside from, as you put it "something unexpected" (@clb74 was a little more direct!), I think we are probably going to have to rely on less high-tech methods.

    Good luck with the Irish records (or rather, the lack of them). And thank you for the suggestions.
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  • N01R4M said:

    Thanks @Scoham . I have no Y-chromosome, and no close male relative from the same male line, so that makes things more difficult for me!

    My cousin is male, but his connection to the Judds is via the sister of his great-grandmother. It was the sister we were originally researching (she was also my grandfather's first cousin) & she married into this family of Judds. So again there is no Y-chromosome link. There might be a possibility via mitochondrial DNA, (I would need to sit down with a sheet of paper & plot things out for my cousin and myself and the sister who married a Judd, to be sure!) but as you say, it is the Y-DNA which is most used for family history matching.

    So quite aside from, as you put it "something unexpected" (@clb74 was a little more direct!), I think we are probably going to have to rely on less high-tech methods.

    Good luck with the Irish records (or rather, the lack of them). And thank you for the suggestions.

    Sorry maybe that wasn’t clear, you and your cousin could both take an autosomal DNA test. That’s the one most commonly used now and it can give you matches to relatives from any line in your family tree.

    Y and mitochondrial tests were available first but all the major websites now offer autosomal tests. In the case of Ancestry that’s the only one they offer.
  • edited December 2018
    N01R4M said:

    Over the years, Lifers have shared interesting bits of their family history with the rest of us, and I thought a family history thread where these stories could in future be gathered together might be useful. I’ll kick it off…

    I have a shameful secret to share. Although I was born in Charlton, my London ancestors came from further west. Places like Peckham, Rotherhithe, and yes, I hesitate to admit, Bermondsey! One of my uncles was a Spanner :(

    Researching family history has taken me to some interesting records – not just the ship-builders of Rotherhithe, the leather workers of Bermondsey, and barometer makers of Borough, but also – sadly – to Victorian debtors’ prisons, workhouses, industrial schools and lunatic asylums. Sometimes you find more than you bargained for…

    My latest researches in SE London, in collaboration with a cousin (a Brighton Seagull), have unearthed a Dickensian amalgam of the Trotters and Steptoe & Son, with a touch of EastEnders – father and son James and Thomas Judd. (And although this story pre-dates the foundation of Charlton Athletic, I bet they knew the times of every train rumbling over the viaduct in and out of London Bridge, for reasons which should become apparent.)

    In brief, James Judd was born in Ireland c.1820-30 and arrived about the time of the Potato Famine in a notoriously crime-ridden corner of Newington, where he met his future wife Mary Daly. He became a tanner, and then set up business in one of the hundreds of Rotherhithe railway arches as a fish manure maker, the revolting stench from which was a great nuisance for about two decades in the neighbourhood (just up-line from the current site of the Toolbox!). After his wife died, James lived in a nearby arch, where he was nearly killed in 1896 by Thomas William Elliott, the man his daughter Catherine was living with, who beat James round the head with a coal shovel. (Details in https://www.oldbaileyonline.org/browse.jsp?id=t18970111-name-290&div=t18970111-154#highlight)

    I did come across one Charlton reference while researching injunctions against Judd’s fish manure business – an 1894 complaint from Lee District that Rotherhithe was dumping parish refuse in the Charlton Chalk Pits. Might this be the site which 25 years later became The Valley @CharltonAthMuseum ? In which case, the unusable residue from James’ manure making may still lie deep beneath our pitch, having been fly-tipped there!

    Son Thomas Judd trained as a leather finisher, but later drove the horse & van (not a 3-wheeler…) collecting rotting fish offal and selling the manure. Multiple newspaper articles between 1874 and 1896 reporting police court proceedings show fish manure was not the only thing the family sold – Thomas had a side-line in stolen goods, and was not above doing a bit of warehouse burglary himself. Thomas’ brothers James jnr., William and Joseph Judd were also light-fingered in their youth, although not charged as often as he was.

    In 1889 Thomas was convicted of breaking and entering a leather dresser’s warehouse, stealing a set of harness and 380 sheepskins worth £40, and sentenced to 5 years penal servitude. In 1894 he and his father were charged with working a pair of unfit, lame horses. James was fined and promised to have the aged horses destroyed. In 1896 Thomas was bound over to keep the peace for allegedly hitting his sister in the face after she gave evidence against him. A fortnight later he was sentenced to a year’s hard labour for theft of two horse-vans worth £55.

    No wonder the Greenwich J.P. Mr Kennedy described them as “a terrible family”!

    Illegality, illegitimacy, illiteracy, insolvency, incest, insanity – you can choose your friends but not your relatives, and must be prepared to discover skeletons if family history is your hobby. I can now add the criminal justice and penal systems to my opening list of Victorian institutions.

    My cousin and I wonder if any living descendants of James Judd snr., his sons James jnr., William, Thomas and Joseph, or their sisters Ann, Mary, Hannah, Catherine and Margaret, would be interested in reading more about our findings and sharing their knowledge of the family. Surnames we have linked to this Judd family by marriage include Alder, Arnold, Baulch, Boot, Catford, Leahy, Marks, Maybee, Sackett, Thurbon, Turner, Warren, Williamson. The most “recent” direct descendant we have definitely identified is Thomas’ youngest son Stanley Judd who lived in Peckham / Lewisham, and died childless nearly 40 years ago in 1979.

    I would be pleased to hear ideas from Lifers how to trace forwards to living descendants, as we are struggling to make progress after the 1911 census, by which time some of the family had moved to Essex. WW2 produced further scattering, and most of the SE London roads in which they lived have been redeveloped. Neither my cousin nor I are descended from the Judds, so DNA is not the answer.

    1) Free BMD: Search births with Surname and maiden name if you have it. You mention Essex so there's a fair chance any Essex results could be 'yours.'

    2) 1939 list will give information re deceased relatives if they passed away a reasonable time ago.

    3) Electoral Rolls. If you have a subscription to Findmypast you can find out information. I think they may also be linked to 192.com which does a similar thing.
  • Thank you @LenGlover - that is very useful.

    1) FreeBMD has already been very helpful getting us to where we are, and my cousin has signed up to a service being trialled by GRO which means you can get downloads of "historic" birth & death info much cheaper than buying the actual certificates. Has all the info, but is not in itself a legal document.
    Unfortunately, the Judds moved to urban rather than rural Essex, and there were already a surprisingly large number of Judd families already there, which muddies the waters. They also seem to have given up their criminal ways - or else the local papers were less inclined to print Police Court reports!

    2) The 1939 list will be added to our "to do" list. I believe it is available via Ancestry and we plan to try out their 14-day free trial, once there is time after Christmas to make good use of it.

    3) I have used the London Electoral Rolls (mostly c. 1880s-1913) free on FamilySearch to resolve some issues. I will investigate whether Findmypast have anything wider geographically, and more recent. We would still have 80 years to bridge between 1939 and the present, and the inclusion of all adult women after 1928 will make them even more useful.
  • If anyone is into the genealogy I would appreciate some help, my father died 1965 (suicide) and I have absolutely no details other his name from which I got from his death certificate. I now have a photo of him and mum on their wedding day which was the first time I saw what he looked like as I would have been 7/8 when he died. Dads side of the family I know nothing, so help would really be help I would pay willing pay for any expenses or costs met for helping me.
    Cheers
    Ray
  • The 1939 register is on Ancestry and Findmypast. I think they created their own transcriptions, so you may find someone on one site but not the other.

    Essex have their own website for parish registers which includes some records from the 1900s. They’re not transcribed so you’d have to look through pages manually or use alongside transcribed records elsewhere.

    http://seax.essexcc.gov.uk/ParishRegisters.aspx
  • N01R4M said:

    Thanks @Scoham . I have no Y-chromosome, and no close male relative from the same male line, so that makes things more difficult for me!

    My cousin is male, but his connection to the Judds is via the sister of his great-grandmother. It was the sister we were originally researching (she was also my grandfather's first cousin) & she married into this family of Judds. So again there is no Y-chromosome link. There might be a possibility via mitochondrial DNA, (I would need to sit down with a sheet of paper & plot things out for my cousin and myself and the sister who married a Judd, to be sure!) but as you say, it is the Y-DNA which is most used for family history matching.

    So quite aside from, as you put it "something unexpected" (@clb74 was a little more direct!), I think we are probably going to have to rely on less high-tech methods.

    Good luck with the Irish records (or rather, the lack of them). And thank you for the suggestions.

    My apologies @N01R4M I could of worded my comment a bit better.
    I'm sure I see an article some while ago saying at least 10% of me who think they are the father of thier child are in fact not.
    I'm sure they said the average could be as much as 20%.
  • T_C_E said:

    If anyone is into the genealogy I would appreciate some help, my father died 1965 (suicide) and I have absolutely no details other his name from which I got from his death certificate. I now have a photo of him and mum on their wedding day which was the first time I saw what he looked like as I would have been 7/8 when he died. Dads side of the family I know nothing, so help would really be help I would pay willing pay for any expenses or costs met for helping me.
    Cheers
    Ray

    Do you have their marriage certificate? That should give their addresses, occupations, ages, fathers names, fathers occupations and names of two witnesses.

    That might then help find his birth certificate and potentially identify him in other records such as the 1939 register.
  • edited December 2018
    T_C_E said:

    If anyone is into the genealogy I would appreciate some help, my father died 1965 (suicide) and I have absolutely no details other his name from which I got from his death certificate. I now have a photo of him and mum on their wedding day which was the first time I saw what he looked like as I would have been 7/8 when he died. Dads side of the family I know nothing, so help would really be help I would pay willing pay for any expenses or costs met for helping me.
    Cheers
    Ray

    You could do a dna test on Ancestry website, if any of your dad’s family are on there, it will show up.
  • T_C_E said:

    If anyone is into the genealogy I would appreciate some help, my father died 1965 (suicide) and I have absolutely no details other his name from which I got from his death certificate. I now have a photo of him and mum on their wedding day which was the first time I saw what he looked like as I would have been 7/8 when he died. Dads side of the family I know nothing, so help would really be help I would pay willing pay for any expenses or costs met for helping me.
    Cheers
    Ray

    Good advice from Scoham, I think that should be your first line of enquiry. In addition you say that he has family, is there anyone else who you could trace back from? preferably a sibling. Get their birth certificate and use that to find their grandparents. You can't guarantee that they'll be the same, it can get messy with step-siblings, but it might just give you a lead.
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  • edited December 2018
    T_C_E said:

    If anyone is into the genealogy I would appreciate some help, my father died 1965 (suicide) and I have absolutely no details other his name from which I got from his death certificate. I now have a photo of him and mum on their wedding day which was the first time I saw what he looked like as I would have been 7/8 when he died. Dads side of the family I know nothing, so help would really be help I would pay willing pay for any expenses or costs met for helping me.
    Cheers
    Ray

    @TCE pm the information on the death certificate ie name, age, address and informant details and I'll see what I can do.

    It might take a week or more given the season and resulting family commitments.
  • N01R4M said:

    Thank you @LenGlover - that is very useful.

    1) FreeBMD has already been very helpful getting us to where we are, and my cousin has signed up to a service being trialled by GRO which means you can get downloads of "historic" birth & death info much cheaper than buying the actual certificates. Has all the info, but is not in itself a legal document.
    Unfortunately, the Judds moved to urban rather than rural Essex, and there were already a surprisingly large number of Judd families already there, which muddies the waters. They also seem to have given up their criminal ways - or else the local papers were less inclined to print Police Court reports!

    2) The 1939 list will be added to our "to do" list. I believe it is available via Ancestry and we plan to try out their 14-day free trial, once there is time after Christmas to make good use of it.

    3) I have used the London Electoral Rolls (mostly c. 1880s-1913) free on FamilySearch to resolve some issues. I will investigate whether Findmypast have anything wider geographically, and more recent. We would still have 80 years to bridge between 1939 and the present, and the inclusion of all adult women after 1928 will make them even more useful.

    Findmypast electoral roll information runs right up to 2017 or even 2018 in some cases.
  • I really enjoyed watching that @Raith_C_Chattonell. I must confess I did it in several sittings between other activities! It certainly deserves a wider audience. Have you drawn the East of London Family History Society’s attention to its existence?

    Although this interview was specific to the East End in its references to roads, pubs, music halls, etc., so much of the life style must have been common in every large city of the country.

    I know that in SE London my ancestors also often crammed seemingly impossible numbers into small houses – and often just one floor of a house which they shared with another family. The housing shortage in London is certainly not a new phenomenon.

    The difference is in our expectations, and rightly so, but the downside is the lack of affordable accommodation for many lower paid people. I’m certain far fewer now rent out a spare room to singles or young couples when children leave home – we want to keep that spare room available for them to come back and visit, now the odds are that they will be living far away, not just around the corner, or simply we value our privacy above the potential rental income.
  • DNA has helped on my dad's bloodline. My grandad was illegitimate and raised by his grandparents. Add in a family who liked to take their secrets to the grave and we have a situation where we will never know who the father was. This also added doubt to that particular strand. DNA helped in proving a relationship beyond that missing link in the chain.

    I've also been able to build a friendship with a cousin we knew nothing about. My uncle, long since departed, was a sailor with an eye for the ladies. A girl in every port it seemed.
    My cousin grew up in New Zealand and then America knowing only that he was a British sailor and his name. She started a Facebook campaign based on the name and a third party contacted me on an ancestry website. We were able to flesh out the man (A bit of a wrong un) and provide photos etc.
  • Wishing you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

    Make sure you record those tall tales gran & grandad tell when they’ve had a few – there may be truth behind the most unlikely of family stories! I look forward to reading the results of your researches in the coming year.
  • Interesting thread. I've been toying with doing something like this, but have a complex situation. I was adopted at birth. I've traced my birth mother, and have a good relationship but she has so far refused to give me any details of my biological father. Equally, my connection with my mum and dad (as I see them) is not genetic but I certainly do things that are like them. I've wanted to trace some of them - I remember my great aunt Nellie who died in 1975/6 and lived in Hopedale Rd. It occurred to me that as my brother and sister were so young I'm probably the only person left alive who remembers her and I don't even know her surname.

  • edited December 2018
    @rananegra - re your Great-aunt Nellie

    Find out what electoral district / Registration district Hopedale Road lies in.
    Electoral registers for Hopedale Road should give you a shortlist of possible Nellie / Eleanor / etc. with surnames. According to LenGlover (see above) they are available on FindMyPast.

    Then look in FreeBMD death indexes for those surnames for deaths of that name in 1975/6. Will give age at death/ date of birth. Actual certificate will say who registered the death, who may be a relative.

    Look for marriage in marriage index - will be a lot easier if she has an uncommon surname! Index will give husband's surname, and should cross reference to her index entry from which you get her maiden name (or previous married name if she was a widow).

    Then search for her in birth index. From September quarter of 1911 onwards the index entry also states the mother's maiden surname.

    If your biological father is not named on your original birth certificate, which is unlikely, then I think the only record is probably in your biological mother's memory. There could be many reasons why she is reluctant to share that information, hard though it may be for you.
  • N01R4M said:

    @rananegra - re your Great-aunt Nellie

    Find out what electoral district / Registration district Hopedale Road lies in.
    Electoral registers for Hopedale Road should give you a shortlist of possible Nellie / Eleanor / etc. with surnames. According to LenGlover (see above) they are available on FindMyPast.

    Then look in FreeBMD death indexes for those surnames for deaths of that name in 1975/6. Will give age at death/ date of birth. Actual certificate will say who registered the death, who may be a relative.

    Look for marriage in marriage index - will be a lot easier if she has an uncommon surname! Index will give husband's surname, and should cross reference to her index entry from which you get her maiden name (or previous married name if she was a widow).

    Then search for her in birth index. From September quarter of 1911 onwards the index entry also states the mother's maiden surname.

    If your biological father is not named on your original birth certificate, which is unlikely, then I think the only record is probably in your biological mother's memory. There could be many reasons why she is reluctant to share that information, hard though it may be for you.

    I may have been misleading.

    My post yesterday was in the context of your question re progressing from 1911 to the present day.

    Findmypast electoral rolls are fine from 2002 to the present day but only selected before that.

    Ancestry might be better but I've not used that facility sufficiently to be 100% on that.
  • Thank you for the clarification, @LenGlover

    @rananegra , I've PM'd you
  • Brilliant thread, N01R4M.

    Many of us are curious about those in our family who came before - there's 'plenty of skeletons in the wardrobe' rattling around in our histories.
    Or at least an unexpected turn of events.

    But actually most of our earlier forebears just lived an ordinary life of their times.

    Have a dig around old photos/old newspaper accounts of their area and then you can picture the environment in which they lived, and worked.
    With a little imagination, 'you can get to know' what it was like to see and feel their lives almost through their eyes.

    In this way, history comes alive.

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