Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Tuesday's Tip ~ Snail Mail Day

Yesterday, a dear genealogy friend who I have know for about 25 years posted on her Facebook wall

"Imagine getting the country behind one day a year whereby they actually post a 'real' letter. Where children write to a friend or family member, or even perhaps they exchange letters with a class somewhere else in the country or even the world. Anyone in the world can do this.

S end
N yone
A n
I nteresting
L etter

It has become apparent to me that few people ever write a letter. Most of our children no longer know the excitement of mail arriving in the letterbox with their name on it. Many wouldn't even know how to write a letter to a friend.

As I recently sat and watched my 37 year old daughter and her friend sitting on the floor, surrounded by their children, reading aloud letters they'd written to one another as young teenagers, and laughing at the stories those pages held within, I realised what we are losing. All those memories and family history which is now either doesn't get recorded, or is stored on a computer. How much is lost when a computer crashes?

It made me think it would be a great idea to create new memories, and new experiences by having one day a year when we all send some SNAIL MAIL. June 13th is the anniversary of my dear Mum's death, and she was an avid letter writer, so what better day to get this going.

Please share this and let's make it happen."

After I read this post from Judi, I spent an hour or so looking through my files and found the letters I received from Judi, all the way from New Zealand. I pondered at the memories and the pleasure I always felt when I saw the envelope and the stamp and would take the letter to read on the train, as I took the daily commute to work.

What struck me as wonderful is that this project is in memory of Judi's Mum who passed away on 13th June and what a wonderful way to commemorate a lady so close to Judi's heart.

So in the spirit of friendship and a great project I am going to write a letter and mail it to Judi. You can write a letter to who ever you see fit to write to, but I am going to wander down memory lane with Judi.

Photo: Ohhhh the irony!
Pictures originally shared by Jamie Kennedy
Because the world we live in is so much driven on-line, there is a Facebook page for the project. Facebook and the internet, concepts that our ancestors, even more recent ancestors would simply be in awe of.

Then just as I was about to go to bed I looked at Facebook and spotted this picture and immediately thought of Judi and this project.

A copy of this post will also appear on "The In Memory of Quilt" 

Saturday, 26 April 2014

Book of Me, Written by You, Prompt 35

Today is week 35 of what is going to be a 15 month project. Each Saturday, at around 12.30 am UK time I will release the prompt for that week's Book of Me, Written by You.

If you are new here, welcome! The details, background flyer and Face Book link to the Book of Me can be found HERE.

This week's prompt is - Aunts and Uncles

As you may have noticed, I rarely have themed prompts, but this week unless you are related to me you would not know that today is always a sad and yet happy day in the April family calendar and in tribute to two very special people we have this week's prompt. If you want to know more about my special people for 26th April, then stop by later! So, without further ado.

  • Did you have Aunts and Uncles?
  • Did you know any of your Great Aunts and Uncles?
  • Did you have people that you called Aunt and Uncle, yet there was no blood connection at all?
    • In fact, does that even matter?
  • So this week, tell us those about those people whose names appear within our family history and perhaps you even had a favourite or two?

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

The Land where Lemons Grow by Helene Attlee

I firmly believe that the way we can understand our genealogy is to read and become aware of the historical, and perhaps other aspects in the way of life relating to the historical community that we hail from.

The Land Where Lemons Grow: The Story of…By way of demonstration, I shall share with you a newly published book that explains what I mean. BBC Radio 4 here in the UK routinely has a "Book of the Week". This week the book is "The Land where Lemons Grow" by Helene Attlee.

Over the course of five days, the book has been abridged and shared with listeners across the radio airwaves. You can see the details, and perhaps listen to the segments of the book HERE. If you are outside of the United Kingdom I can not confirm if you can still hear the abridged version.

What I will say is that I have really enjoyed listening to the abridged version, so much that I have purchased a copy.

The book displays a degree of food, cookery and history of Italy and Sicily. Sicily is of course where my own genealogical interests lie.

You can read some further details and a review at The Times Literary Supplement.

Monday, 21 April 2014

Official Launch of The In Memory of Quilt

We have just had the first bank holiday since Christmas and the New Year here in England. Since December much has happened; it has been quite an emotional roller coaster.

Today though, regardless of being Easter Monday marks a special day in our family calendar. It is the day that my beloved Grandmother passed away in 1995, aged 82 years, having been a widow since 1974.

It therefore seems fitting that the launch of The In Memory of Quilt should happen on the anniversary of the day that we lost my Grandmother.

Two incredibly amazing women who were without question tremendously influential in my life. They are missed each day, more than they or I ever thought possible.

So what is this all about? 

Please hop over to the official site making sure you read the various tabs at the top of the page as that will explain more, the background, the ideas and how to take part.

As the project progresses, all the details about the quilt, and the squares will appear on the official site. I will also share other updates related to the project there.

Please share the project with friend and family. Sadly death is a fact of life and we have all lost someone we love. What a wonderful way to share their story.

Sunday, 20 April 2014

More Easter Memories

In my kitchen breakfast room there hangs, on some beams a series of mugs & cups. Nothing especially spectacular about any of them, but they each have a story to tell.

This is a cup I remember from my childhood. Originally it was one of those that came with a saucer and had an Easter egg in it; both long since gone. All that remains is this cup and and a series of happy memories. My Grandfather used this mug as his shaving mug when he was too unwell to get to the bathroom and shave at the sink.

The memories of him snuggling with me and reading to me. Sharing chocolate with me, whilst pretending not to let my Grandmother or Mum see. Such happy memories. Whilst the mug is not of value in the monetary sense, to me it is priceless.

Easter Memories

Image courtesy of Lindt
When I was a little girl in the 1970's my Great Aunt always bought me a box of Lindt chocolate bunnies in a small cardboard box. This happen for years, until I was probably about 15 or so!

The little bunnies were not wrapped, but sat in a small tray inside the small, lovely paper box. This picture is the nearest I have found to my happy Easter memory.

Freshias and Orchids
Image courtesy of
Anyway, the years passed by and I became an adult and my Great Aunt an elderly lady. We had always shared a small gift when we visited each other. In recent years though it was me that visited and me that had the delight in choosing the gift. In Aunts case usually Freshia's.

Each time the Easter eggs hit the shelves I have to look and see if there are any on the shelves like there used to be. Each time sharing my memory with my poor husband who can recite the memory. After 20 years who wouldn't?

About ten years ago we were in Carlisle and I stumbled across an old fashioned sweetshop. The sort the sell sweets by the ounce. There in the window was a box of Easter Lindt bunnies just like Aunt bought for me. I rushed in and bought the box, the chap behind the counter telling me that was old stock. I didn't really care how old, although I did discreetly check the sell by date. ! I bought them (and a pound of dark (plain) chocolate toffees because they are my favouites).

Lilian Dorothy May (nee Butcher) May 2009
Dorothy May nee Butcher 1915 - 1910
Taken J Goucher 2008
A few weeks later I made the trip to see Aunt. By this point elderly, well into her late 80's and still living at home. I greeted her, a kiss on the cheek, a bunch of freshia's and said I have a surprise.

Aunt made tea in her regular china tea cups (because you only have mugs in the morning with coffee!). I carried the tray into the lounge and accepted a cup of tea and a slice of coffee cake. Aunt then asked what the surprise was.

I extracted my box of Lindt bunnies and said "do you remember?" She of course did because like her siblings, my Grandfather's sisters had the memories of elephants! We had to eat and drink in order, the cake, the tea and then the bunnies, followed by more tea! It was wonderful and a very special moment!

My Aunt left us in 2010, but still every year at Easter I look for those Easter bunnies in the box of yesteryear.

You can read about my Aunt HERE and my Eulogy to her HERE

Saturday, 19 April 2014

Book of Me, Written by You, Prompt 34

Today is week 34 of what is going to be a 15 month project. Each Saturday, at around 12.30 am UK time I will release the prompt for that week's Book of Me, Written by You.

If you are new here, welcome! The details, background flyer and Face Book link to the Book of Me can be found HERE.

This week's prompt is - Easter Memories

What does Easter Mean to you?

  • A religious event?
  • The first main break (in the UK) since Christmas and New Year
  • A more general Spring/Autumn event
  • Easter Bunnies
    • Eggs
    • Chocolate
  • Traditions
Where ever you are, and however you celebrate (or not) Easter, have a great four day break and spend time doing the things you love with the people you love!

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Genchat, Places and One-Place Studies

Yesterday I and a few of my +Society for One-Place Studies colleagues took part in #genchat hosted by +Jen Baldwin. What a great hour it was and so informative, with plenty of information and hints for experienced and newbies to the concept of a One-Place Study.

Over the course of an hour we answered via Tweet the following eight questions:
  1. What is a One Place Study in the world of genealogy?
  2. Who conducts these studies? & Why do people conduct these studies?
  3. What is the benefit of a One PLACE study over a One NAME study?
  4. What resources are available and unique to a OPS?
  5. How do you chose a location? is it important that you live close to conduct a OPS?
  6. What tools do you use for your OPS? Does genealogy software help? What else do you put into play?
  7. What elements are necessary before you begin? What goes into your overall plan for you OPS?
  8. What areas are we all focusing on today? Where is your OPS or where do you think you would have an interest?
Here is the Chatter details embedded for you and further down is some extra resources that might be of interest.

Extra Resources

In December 2013 the Society for One-Place Studies hosted a hangout on area where we discussed the topic of choosing your place

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Find My Past - Thoughts from Anglers Rest

I have been a subscriber of FindmyPast for quite a few years, somewhere between 8 to 10 years I guess. I have always had a pay as you go account because I, sorry findmypast, favoured Ancestry. Then a couple of years ago the company launched in the US and I could purchase a worldwide account, for the fraction of the cost in the UK.

What is a genealogist to do? but purchase a worldwide subscription. The downside was that I had two accounts and two logins. Then at the end of the first year I received a rather tempting offer to resubscribe for a brilliantly low fee. Yet again I was dazzled by savings and took the annual subscription in addition to my worldwide Ancestry subscription. My extravagance knows no bounds!

In the meantime I logged into the new search feature over at the US site and whilst not overly enthralled it served it's purpose. In addition I had continued topping up my pay as you go credits for the time when I would not be dazzled by the offers!

Then there was the news of a new and modern search facility to the old UK site. I was delighted, but equally the old site worked so why fix it? Then the launch day came and I logged in. Very cleverly FindmyPast had merged my two accounts. My account clearly showed that I had a live world subscription and credits with an expiry date. Searches done were free and my credits safe.

The majority of the genealogy world has been in uproar of the developments of the search options. I agree with my genealogical peers and colleagues, but every cloud has a silver lining and for me that is one login.

I guess I am a glass half full kind of gal!

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

All We Leave Are Memories!

I have needed a bit of time out. My A - Z Challenge posts, all written before Christmas and scheduled have failed to post because I realise that I have the year as 2015. Who knows what I was thinking! I may go back and repost or I may just leave ready for next year!

Anyway we have finally hit spring here in England and feeling as though I needed to do something that enabled me to think about my departed family I opted to do a bit of spring sorting.

We have spent the last few days clearing the shed, ridding it of stuff we won't need at out new place, and merging Mum's bits with ours. Each thing came with a memory attached.

Her electrical gardening bits that had dubious plugs on. Mum, like me could never wire a plug properly. The view is, if it works then fab!, the strange things in her tool box - a few needles and buttons. Why when she has a whole 5 boxes of sewing and patchwork stuff. Reasoning known only to Mum. Such vagueness and randomness that she has passed along to me and I know my Grandfather was the same. I am in good company and proud to be to.

The best bit was this assortment of tools. Most of these were my Grandfather's including the box of tacks - still full and rusty and the little tube of something - no idea what that is. Will add that to my to do list to see if I can find out what it is. Whilst the tools have no use really, they are now happily installed in our toolboxes.

Last week I came across the gardening tools that belonged to my Grandfather - a hoe, a rake that had been made with bent nails at the top. I just love the thinking and a link to the past.

Saturday, 12 April 2014

Book of Me, Written by You, Prompt 33

Today is week 33 of what is going to be a 15 month project. Each Saturday, at around 12.30 am UK time I will release the prompt for that week's Book of Me, Written by You.

If you are new here, welcome! The details, background flyer and Face Book link to the Book of Me can be found HERE.

This week's prompt is - Regrets

  • Big Regrets
    • I should (or not) have bought that large purchase
  • Small Regrets
    • I should (or not) have had that thick shake at MacDonalds
  • Miscellaneous Regrets
    • Relationships
    • Jobs
    • Friends

This might seem like a prompt which gives you permission to beat yourself up at the regrets you may have. That is not the case. The important thing to remember with regrets is that hindsight is a wonderful thing!

Saturday, 5 April 2014

Book of Me, Written by You, Prompt 32

Today is week 32 of what is going to be a 15 month project. Each Saturday, at around 12.30 am UK time I will release the prompt for that week's Book of Me, Written by You.

If you are new here, welcome! The details, background flyer and Face Book link to the Book of Me can be found HERE.

This week's prompt is - How do you De-Stress?

  • Read
  • Swim
  • Walk
  • Music
  • Yoga 
  • Sport
  • Anything else?
  • What triggers your acknowledgement that you need to de-stress?
    • Headaches
    • other pains?
  • What triggers you stress?
As always, share what you feel comfortable - anything from nothing to.....your choice!

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Blogging A-Z - April Challenge - B is for.......

B is for Bastardy Bonds

About twenty years ago I was merrily working my way through my maternal family line and encountered my first Bastardy Bond.

Samuel Harris was born in 1766, the illegitimate son of Elizabeth Harris in the Surrey parish of Frensham. The location with the parish is very close to the border with Hampshire, at the parishes of Bramshott and Headley.

As was common practice, the unwed and expectant mother was to report her situation to the officials in the parish of settlement. At this point Elizabeth submitted a Bastardy Examination which "forced" the mother to name the father of the expected child. This allowed the parish to seek the father and request that he pay a contribution for the child's upkeep rather than the parish being expected to.

The Bastardy Bond,which you see here was filed on 10th November 1767. Elizabeth clearly names the father as Samuel Holt with the baby being born eighteen months prior.

Bastardy Bond Samuel Holt & Elizabeth Harris
Surrey History Centre ref 1505/30/1767/BB37 - Page 1
Bastardy Bond Samuel Holt & Elizabeth Harris
Surrey History Centre ref 1505/30/1767/BB37 - Page 2
Baby Samuel had by this time already been baptised and is recorded as a Samuel Harris, he is then named Samuel Holt on the bottom of page one above and then marries in 1787 to Sarah Diggins as Samuel Harris.

Marriage of Samuel Harris to Sarah Diggins 9th April 1787 Frensham Surrey
Image courtesy of Ancestry, although I have a copy obtained from
Surrey Heritage Centre dated 1989

There is something rather wonderful that I an see Samuel Holt's spidery and shaky signature, yet his illegitimate son could only sign with a X. There is no further documentation to suggest that Samuel Holt did not keep good on his promise to pay for his child. 

What is worth noting is that the Overseer to the Poor in Farnham was Richard Avenell. Avenell is a well known surname in the area, linking to a clock making family and the name appears in my one-place study for Puttenham about the same time. A generation further on and there are more instances of relationships and children between members of the Harris and Holt families, but that is another story!

Note - If you want to see a larger image of the documents shown please visit

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Blogging A-Z - April Challenge - A is for.......

This year I am keeping with a genealogical & historical theme.
A is for Archives.

There is something very special accessing an archive of material whether that is a collection gathered by an individual, group, regional or national facility.

An archive is a link to the past. A past that our ancestors lived, played and worked in, regardless if you are researching your ancestry or not.

An archive is an opportunity to explore the bowels of an establishment, to absorb, delve, be curious in. An environment in which we can ask questions and hopefully identify items and documents that answer those questions.

Of course, once you are in an archive it is very easy to be distracted and head off into a tangent and explore other things. Personally I find that as I look at documents other questions or thoughts pop into my head that perhaps are not related to the quest I am exploring. I record those thoughts in a short mind map style note in my notebook, capturing the essence of the thought whilst keeping on the path of research.

Puttenham Surrey - 2007
There are some great archives in existence and not just the more established ones. There are local archives, that perhaps relate to a particular location. In those instances they are typically run by a team of volunteers. It was such an archive that got me involved with my One-Place Study of Puttenham. My own Puttenham archive is a constant work in progress and I am currently in the process of putting all the material on-line, either at the website or blog.

Here are a few examples of some other local archives. Firstly, this one from the English county of Surrey - Shere Museum. An early branch of my maternal family hailed from Shere, having hopped over the border from Sussex before meandering their way across this part of Surrey.

Where Shere Museum is run as a private entity, Guildford Museum is run by the Borough Council and I spent many a happy Saturday afternoon their in earlier years. Attached to the Museum was originally part of the Surrey Records Office in a rather dusty and dark basement. The room was called the Muniment Room and I spent many, many hours looking through the card indexes which usually meant that I called for a document or two from the archive store. Here I discovered lots about my family that came into Guildford from Shere. More recently, well within the last fifteen years, the Muniment has closed its doors, but the documents are now located in a newly built Surrey History Centre at Woking.

Some records are found at a more national level at The National Archives located at Kew. Records pertaining to Scotland and other parts of the United Kingdom are houses in typically the capitals of those locations - Cardiff, Edinburgh and Belfast, but. there are many, many places that may house archives and material that could assist you in your research.

This post has featured Surrey, because that is where my maternal family hails from, but there is more than likely near your own location an archive of whatever description simply waiting for you to walk through its doors and experience and delve into the archives confined within the walls.

Photo of the Bowring Collection at
Royal Albert Memorial Museum Exeter
June 2013 - J Goucher
Sometimes, there can be some really unexpected finds. Last June I visited the Museum in Exeter. I had always wanted to visit and simply enjoy the experience rather than visit with a particular task in mind. So there I was on a rather dismal day in June wandering around the Museum. I have a distant ancestor who was born and died in Exeter yet lived all over the world and had a fascinating life.

His name was Sir John Bowring. As I wandered round I gave a quick ponder to would I see anything mentioning Sir John? Well I did and that prompted me to delve a little deeper into what material was on offer and located at the Museum. I did write a blog post about the visit and you can read that here.


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