Thursday, 31 March 2011

Blogger - Five New Ways to View Blogs

Blogger have today launched 5 new ways to view their blogs. Simply add "/view" to the URL of the blog to access them.

Flipcard View


Blogger Flipcard view


Mosaic View


Blogger Mosaic view


Timeslide View


Blogger Timeslide view


Sidebar View


Blogger Sidebar view


Snapshot View


Blogger Snapshot view


I like this view best of all but, unfortunately, I can't get it to load for my own blog.

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Census Night: Looking back - Part 2

You can read the first part of this post here.

Please click on each of the images below to see a larger version.

3 April 1881 - A family divided by tragedy




This is the 1881 census entry for my husband's 2x great grandfather, Mark Gurney. He was living in the village of Martock, near Yeovil, in Somerset, with his three youngest children, Frances, (Ada) Charlotte and (George) Edward.

Sadly, Mark's wife Frances, nee Heale, was not with them. She can be found in the 1881 census in the Somerset and Bath Asylum in Wells, described as a lunatic. She had first been admitted there with mental illness in July 1874. Her admission notes stated that she had been ill for two weeks. She could answer questions rationally and said that she did not approve of doctors. If anything was done contrary to her wishes she got excited and used threatening language.

At the time of her admission, Frances was about 12 weeks pregnant with her fifth child, Kathleen, who was born in the Asylum in February 1875. Frances was discharged shortly after the birth but by June her baby was dead.

Her next admission was in June 1878, when George Edward was nine months old. Discharged on Boxing Day 1878, she was, as we have seen, back in the Asylum for the 1881 census. In November 1882 her oldest son died and in May 1884 she lost her husband, Mark.

By February 1885 she was back in the Asylum with "mania", described as suicidal and dangerous. She gave her next of kin as the son who had been dead for two years. Discharged in June 1885 she went to London, where she was admitted to a workhouse in poverty and then despatched back to Somerset. At that point poor Frances vanishes from the records, with no further appearances in the Asylum or the censuses and no death certificate found.

5 April 1891 - Orphans boarded out with a nurse




This is the 1891 census entry for my grandfather, Lawrence George Buchanan Davis, and his twin sister, Georgina Alicia Davis (Georgie). They were both 11 months old and were living in Earle Street, Yeovil, Somerset in the household of Thomas Woodward, a naval pensioner, and his wife, Elizabeth, who was a nurse. (The Woodward family are shown on the previous page of the census.)

Lawrence and Georgie were the children of Rev Alban Edgar Brunskill Davis, Rector of Brympton d'Evercy, Somerset, and his wife, Georgina, nee Lowe. They were born in the Rectory at Brympton on 3 May 1890 and on 11 May their mother, Georgina, died from metroperitonitis (inflammation around the uterus). The informant on Georgina's death certificate was Elizabeth Woodward of Earle Street, Yeovil, who had been present at the death.

It would seem that Elizabeth Woodward, having nursed Georgina Davis at the time of her death, then took over responsibility for the week old twins, who spent at least their first year of life boarded out in her household. She was probably also their wet nurse.

31 March 1901 - The housemaid




This is the 1901 census entry for my grandmother, Alice Eaton. She was a 20 year old housemaid in the household of Joseph Rock, an East India Export Agent, at 13 The Downs, Wimbledon, Surrey.

This was a real Upstairs, Downstairs household consisting of Joseph, his wife, eight children, a grandchild and five servants. There were also a coachman and his wife living over the coach house next door.

Although not shown in the census, I know from my grandmother's stories that the household also employed a butler, who used to pour an entire bottle of port into a huge whole round of Stilton at Christmas time.

Alice went into service with the Rocks as an under housemaid at the age of 14. Her duties included getting up at dawn to lay the fires in the grates. By the time of the 1901 census she had been promoted to housemaid but was still second to bottom in the pecking order of servants.

She stayed with the family until her marriage to my grandfather, Vivian Macaulay Bentley, in July 1904. For her big day, the Rock family gave Alice the use of their coach and coachman for her journey to and from the church. It was a kindness which Alice never forgot and she always talked about the Rock family with affection.

2 April 1911 - So much information




This is the 1911 census entry for my great grandparents, John and Agnes McCarthy, nee Fritz. They were living at 66 Salford Road, Streatham Hill, London, with their three daughters, Edith, Dora and Sheila, and a general servant.

This census provides unique information, not available in any of the previous censuses. For the first time, the form was filled in by the head of household, not the enumerator. So this document shows me John McCarthy's own handwriting and signature. It also reveals that the house had eight rooms, counting the kitchen but not including the bathroom. Most importantly, it provides details about the marriage and the number of children born and surviving.

John and Agnes had been married 23 years (they married on 21 July 1887) and the marriage had produced six living children, of whom three had died. My mother, who lived with the McCarthy family as a child, was able to give me the names of those three children. Agnes, born in 1888, died of typhoid in Le Havre, France,  in 1891. Edith's twin, John, died as a one year old baby and Richard, born in the gap between Dora and Sheila, died of bronchitis, aged 9 months.

This census also gives more information about employment than any previous one. As well as a person's occupation it also gives the industry or service sector in which they worked. John McCarthy is listed as a Chief Inspector in the Criminal Investigation Department of the Metropolitan Police, it being the year before his promotion to Superintendent. His two elder daughters were both out at work, reflecting the increasing economic participation of women in the Edwardian era. Both were working as shorthand typists, Edith for an insurance company and Dora, my grandmother, for a firm of sanitary engineers.

Monday, 28 March 2011

Census Night: Looking back - Part 1

Having just submitted the census returns online for our household and my mother's, I thought it would be fun to look back at how some of my ancestors were recorded in the eight censuses from 1841 to 1911 which are now in the public domain. The examples I have chosen show how important census information is in tracing family history.

Please click on each of the images below to see a larger version.

6 June 1841 - Reaching right back to the 18th century




This 1841 census entry is for my 4x great grandparents, James and Elizabeth Snelling (nee Toop). They were living in East Lulworth, Dorset, the village where they had both been born.

James, who was baptised in October 1757 was 83, and Elizabeth, who was baptised in July 1764, was 76. The census enumerator correctly rounded both their ages down to the nearest 5 years, as 80 and 75 respectively.

Because of their ages, this census enabled me to jump right back to the parish registers of the mid 18th century. Sadly, their extreme old age seems to have reduced them to want, as James' "profession, trade or employment" is given as "pauper". This reminds me that I must look at the local Poor Law records to see if James and Elizabeth were being given any form of outdoor relief.

30 March 1851 - A wealth of information, some of it misleading




This 1851 census entry is for my 2x great grandparents, Frederick and Charlotte Davis (nee Aves). They were living at Toll End, Tipton, Staffordshire. They were the schoolmaster and mistress at the church school in the newly created parish of St Mark's, Ocker Hill.

There is a lot of useful information here. The birthplaces of the children show how the family had moved around since Frederick and Charlotte married in 1842. Frederick's grandmother is living with them. There are two pupil teachers, one of whom had clearly been brought with them from their previous school in Willingale, Essex. Also in the household is the curate of the parish, Rev Joseph Brunskill, after whom two of Frederick and Charlotte's sons were named.

But there are also inaccuracies. Frederick was not born in the parish of St John, Westminster, Charlotte was actually 32 and it is highly likely that Frederick's grandmother was in fact his mother. Don't believe everything you read in the census.

7 April 1861 - Crucial information about employment and birthplaces




This 1861 census entry is for my 3x great grandparents, George and Susannah Rayman (nee Lee). They were living at 16 Bovingdon Street, Hoxton, in the East End of London.

This census has proved absolutely crucial in tracing back both sides of the family. In 1851 George and Susannah only gave their county of birth. By 1871 they were both dead. Without this census, specifying the parishes of Ewell, Surrey, and White Roothing, Essex, I would have had no idea of where to look for their births. As it is, armed with this information, I have been able to find baptisms for both of them and the names of their parents.

In the two previous censuses, George's occupation was simply given as "warehouseman" but the 1861 census shows where he was employed - as a foreman at London's East and West India Docks. The records of these companies are preserved at the Museum of London Docklands and I am hoping they may include employment records for George.

2 April 1871 - A thriving business




This is the 1871 census entry for my 2x great-grandparents, William and Harriet Munden (nee Coles). They were living in Christchurch Street, Ringwood, Hampshire, with their four youngest children and a general servant.

William had made a remarkable rise from humble origins, as the son of a labourer and decoyman, to become a highly successful millwright and engineer. This census shows him when his business was at its peak. He was employing 30 men and 5 boys at his engineering works, which made all types of agricultural machinery, as well as supplying local mills with their mill wheels and other gear.

William's old workshops are now the premises of the Ringwood Brewery. The 1873 Return of Owners of Land shows that they covered almost 2 acres. When William died in 1900 he was described as a "gentleman" and left an estate worth around £1 million in today's money.

You can read the second part of this post here.

Saturday, 26 March 2011

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: How Many Surnames?

Tonight's challenge from Randy Seaver is to:

1)  Go into your Genealogy Management Program (GMP; either software on your computer, or an online family tree) and figure out how to count how many surnames you have in your family tree database.

2)  Tell us which GMP you're using and how you did this task.

3)  Tell us how many surnames, and if possible, which surname has the most entries.  If this excites you, tell us which surnames are in the top 5!

4)  Write about it in your own blog post, in a comment to this blog post, or in a status or comment on Facebook.

My preferred genealogy program is Family Tree Maker 2011 (FTM 2011). I used the Surname Report, found in the Publish workspace under Person Reports.


Surname Report 1


The Surname Report is a new feature in FTM 2011 and I had never used it before tonight, so I found this week's challenge particularly interesting.

From the Surname Report Options, I selected the options:

    • All Individuals
    • Sort by surname count
    • Show divider between surnames



Surname Report 2


This report gave me 27 pages containing 35 surnames, plus a 28th page containing 24. (35 X 27) + 24 = 969, so I have a total of 969 surnames in my database of 4,859 people.

The most common surname in my database is my maiden name, Bentley. The table below shows the top ten surnames, including the breakdown between males and females and the earliest and most recent dates for each surname:


Surname Report 4

John McCarthy: A taciturn giant in Canada

Last November I took out a subscription to the US newspaper website Genealogy Bank. I did so as part of my search for Captain John Winn. I haven't found him yet but the subscription has paid for itself in an unexpected way. It seems US newspapers in the early 20th century were fascinated by the workings of Scotland Yard and I have found many articles which mention my great grandfather, John McCarthy.


McCarthy John head at Palace


Last night I came across a real gem - an article written following John McCarthy's appointment as Superintendent in charge of CID at Scotland Yard in 1912. It appeared in The Times-Picayune of New Orleans, dated 18 October 1912, in a gossip column with the extraordinary title: "Gossip Of Europe. Marquise De Fontenoy's Budget of Old World Celebrities".

After paying tribute to John McCarthy's predecessor in the job, Superintendent Froest, the article goes on to describe the new appointee:


John McCarthy 1912


I shall have to ask my mother, who lived with him as a child, whether he was really "a giant in stature and strength" and "exceedingly silent and taciturn". The latter seems an unlikely description of any Irishman.

The information about John McCarthy accompanying the Prince of Wales (later George V) on a tour of Canada was new to me. It adds yet another dimension to my family's relationship with the country of which I have recently become a citizen.




Good old Wikipedia provided me with a detailed itinerary, in an article on Royal tours of Canada:

As modern modes of transportations allowed for easier travel across the oceans, more of the Royal Family came to tour the King's northern Dominion. The first since Queen Victoria's death was the son of the reigning king, Prince George (later King George V) and his wife, the Duchess of Cornwall and York, who arrived in Canada in 1901. The royal party Рwhich consisted of 22 people, including the Duchess' brother Prince Alexander of Teck Рlanded at Quebec City on 16 September, from where the group then travelled to Montreal Рwhere separate Francophone and Anglophone welcoming committees caused confusion Рand then on to Ottawa, where the Duke watched the lacrosse final for the Minto Cup, which he enjoyed so much he kept the ball that was used. They then shot the timber slide at the Chaudi̬re River, watched canoe races, and picnicked in Rockcliffe woods, near Ottawa. They passed through Ontario, creating "incredible excitement seldom seen since the visit of his father in 1860." Amongst other duties, the Prince dedicated the Alexandra Bridge in Ottawa, in honour of Queen Alexandra.

The Duke and Duchess moved on to Manitoba where the former opened the new science building at the University of Manitoba, and then to Regina in the Northwest Territories. In Calgary, they met with First Nations chiefs and viewed exhibitions. Westward, they ended up in Vancouver and Victoria, to turn back again towards Banff, where the Duchess went to Tunnel Mountain and Lake Louise while the Duke went to Poplar Point. After passing back through Regina, they reunited in Toronto, welcomed by the Mendelssohn Choir, and attended concerts at Massey Hall. It was then around southern Ontario and back to Montreal again, where the Duke opened the newly rebuilt Victoria Bridge. The tour ended with a trip through Saint John, Halifax, and then out of Canada to the then still separate Newfoundland.

I also found on YouTube an old film of the royal party in Montreal and Quebec. Unfortunately, I cannot spot John McCarthy in any of the footage but, no doubt, an important part of being a royal bodyguard is to be discreet and keep out of the limelight.


John McCarthy's youngest daughter, Sheila, was born on 30 September 1901, whilst he was away in Canada with the royal couple. I don't suppose that made him very popular with his wife, my great grandmother, Agnes McCarthy nee Fritz. Sheila was given the second name Mary - hardly surprising in a good Catholic family - but I wonder whether it may also have been in honour of Princess Mary, with whom he was travelling when the baby was born.

Friday, 25 March 2011

Fearless Females: A Mother

In honour of National Women’s History Month, Lisa Alzo of The Accidental Genealogist has created  Fearless Females: 31 Blogging Prompts to Celebrate Women’s History Month.

March 25 — Tell how a female ancestor interacted with her children. Was she loving or supportive? A disciplinarian? A bit of both?

This is a poem which Rev Frederick William Davis wrote about his mother (and my direct ancestor) Charlotte Davis, nee Aves, the wife of Rev Frederick Davis. She died of tuberculosis, aged 40, in 1858, when Frederick William was 15 years old.

I don't know when the poem was written but it was published in the women's magazine "Hearth & Home" on 30 September 1897, almost 40 years after Charlotte's death. I think it answers all of the questions in Lisa's blogging prompt.


A Mother

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Ancestors who died of tuberculosis

Today is World Tuberculosis Day. It commemorates 24 March 1882, the day on which Dr Robert Koch announced that he had discovered the cause of tuberculosis - the bacillus Mycobacterium tuberculosis.


Robert Koch


Tuberculosis has been with us since antiquity. Tubercular decay has been found in the spines of Egyptian mummies and the famous Greek physician, Hippocrates, described it as the most prevalent disease of his day. In the 19th century, as people crowded into cities following the Industrial Revolution, living in overcrowded and insanitary conditions, it became the particular scourge of the urban poor.




Effective treatment only became possible after 1946, with the development of the antibiotic streptomycin. However, hopes that tuberculosis could be eradicated have been dashed, following the emergence of antibiotic resistant strains of the disease. In fact, tuberculosis is once again on the rise in all parts of the world, including the developed nations. According to Wikipedia, one third of the world's population is thought to be infected with the disease and new infections occur at a rate of about one per second.


William Bluett


Genealogists do not have to read many death certificates before they come across an ancestor who died of tuberculosis. The disease may be described in a number of ways, the most common being consumption, phthisis and TB. To mark the day, I thought I would list the known victims from my own family tree, whose deaths spanned a period of nearly 100 years:

21 January 1856: Elizabeth McWilliams, nee McCarry, aged 39, Dundee.

5 October 1858: Charlotte Davis nee Aves, aged 40, Cornwall.

2 August 1867: Frederick Thomas Rayman, aged 28, London.

1 April 1880: William Bluett, aged 26, London.

20 March 1883: Ann Hay Clark, aged 17, France.

20 April 1888: Cecilia Rayman, nee Baldwin, aged 54, London.

22 January 1895: Ada Charlotte Gurney, aged 23, London.

16 March 1898: Christian Robb, aged 66, Aberdeenshire.

15 July 1899: Robert Lowe, aged 35, USA.

12 May 1902: Mary Bunch, aged 71, Dundee.

8 September 1912: Matilda Anderson, nee Gall, aged 63, Dundee.

29 October 1940: Ida Blanche Bentley, nee Wreford, aged 29, London.

15 July 1948: Reginald Vivian Bentley, aged 39, London.


TB Poster


The last name in the list is the most tragic of all, my father's beloved brother, Reg. The preceding name is that of his wife Ida, whom he married in 1936. He knew that she was suffering from TB, and that he risked catching it from her, but his love for her was such that he married her anyway.

Reg died in 1948, two years after the first successful trials with streptomycin, but before treatment with the drug had become widespread. The wonderful new medical breakthrough with antibiotics came just too late to save him from this cruel disease.

He was long mourned and sadly missed by his whole family. I was born after his death but my father often spoke of his sunny personality, generosity and wonderful sense of humour.

RIP Uncle Reg.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Fearless Females: Timeline for Charlotte Aves

In honour of National Women’s History Month, Lisa Alzo of The Accidental Genealogist has created  Fearless Females: 31 Blogging Prompts to Celebrate Women’s History Month.

March 23 — Create a timeline for a female ancestor using your favourite software program.

This timeline for my great great grandmother was created using Family Tree Maker 2011. 



Sunday, 20 March 2011


This week's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun challenge from Randy Seaver was to make up new words or phrases - "genealogisms" - that deal with some aspect of genealogy.

Here are my suggestions:

Cititis - severe form of OCD, when you spend more time composing source citations than doing research

Microphilmia - a love of doing research

Sourcophobia - an irrational fear of reading anything by Elizabeth Shown Mills

Namerology - collecting and adding as many names as possible to a family tree

Samerology - copying someone else's family tree

Beyond the Pond - tracing your immigrant ancestors back to the old country

The Evidencia - professional genealogy mafia, over concerned with the placement of commas

Geneasnob - someone who wants to trace their ancestry back to royalty

Geneaslob - anyone who doesn't bother to cite their sources

Geneabug - addiction to genealogy

Geneaplug - TV advert for Ancestry or Find My Past

Geneameet - a genealogy conference

Geneatweet - publicising your genealogy on Twitter

Tree Rage - extreme anger brought on by finding your ancestors have been wrongly added to someone else's tree

Tree Envy - wishing you could swap your ag labs for someone else's aristocrats

Teenealogist - younger than average family historian

Greenealogist - someone who cycles to the record office and takes notes on a solar powered laptop; someone who only has Irish ancestry

Meanealogist - a person who only uses free genealogy websites

Hasbeenealogist - a person who no longer gets asked to speak at conferences

Ancestors Anonymous - support organisation for genealogy addicts

Sunday, 13 March 2011

A Genealogist's View of the 2011 Census

This afternoon I filled in the 2011 Census forms online for our household and that of my 91 year old mother. The actual census date is 27 March 2011 but you can fill in the information online now and save it, then go back and make any necessary changes on the night of 27 March, before finally pressing Submit.

These are my thoughts on the process, as a citizen and a genealogist:

  • It is much easier to fill in the online form than the paper one, with its daunting 32 pages.
  • The form only asks for one first name but I filled in all our first names, for the sake of future genealogists. The online form only allows a limited number of characters, so I only had room to enter the last initial for my husband, who has three Christian names.
  • The form asks for place of birth at country level only. If you use the paper form there is nothing to stop you writing the actual place of birth next to this box. The information will then be recorded for future researchers. (According to Annie Barnes at Hibbitt Family History, digital copies of the forms will be preserved.) This is quite important if your name is a common one.


  • The question which made me really stop and think was the one about national identity, where you are allowed to tick multiple boxes if you wish:
    • I am a citizen of the United Kingdom and, as a diplomat and civil servant, have served the whole country in my work in Whitehall, at international conferences, and in British Embassies overseas. I see myself as British and would hate to see the break up of the United Kingdom into its component nations.
    • I feel this even more strongly because my ancestry is a mixture of all the different nationalities of these Isles - English, Scottish, Irish and Welsh. When I go to Scotland, in particular, I feel my ties to that country very strongly, having traced my ancestry there back to the 16th century. I never want to have to show a passport at the border.
    • On the other hand, I was born and raised in England, have lived nowhere else in the UK, and I supported England against Scotland in the rugby this afternoon (we won 22-16). I feel that England should enjoy the same autonomy and self-government as the other constituent nations and strongly object to their MPs voting on purely English affairs in Parliament. I also hated the militant "anyone but England" attitude of some Scots during the World Cup. As a result, I feel more English identity and nationalism now than at any previous time of my life.
    • I decided that my recent acquisition of Canadian citizenship, backdated to birth, as one of the generation of Lost Canadians, was a complication too far for this particular exercise.
    • In the end, I ticked both British and English.