It has been a busy week, with some fascinating family history discoveries. As some of you will know, I have been publicly somewhat scathing about the works of fiction that are strewn across the internet, purporting to be someone’s family tree. Not wishing to delve too deeply into people who die before they are born, have children at the age of two, or are allegedly living in three different countries at one and the same time, I attempt to avoid these. Occasionally there may be a nugget of usefulness of course and my recent foray on to Ancestry.co.uk did lead to a photograph of my great great grandfather’s brother. I have a picture of g-g-grandfather and there is a likeness. I also found two people whose online trees bore some resemblance to reality and I was able to offer the owners copies of family photographs. One even replied, so I guess that is a bonus.
John and Thomas Dawson
My Ancestry DNA test is currently languishing in the lab waiting to be processed. Yes, I am going to join the ranks of those irritating testees who do not have a tree on Ancestry. I have however added my ancestral surnames to my profile back sufficiently far for any fourth cousins to look for a common ancestor.
I am, as anticipated, making use of some of the original documents that can be accessed via Ancestry, notably collections from London Metropolitan Archives. It was via some workhouse admissions’ and discharge registers that I discovered that my great great aunt had been in the county asylum. Coincidentally, my ‘In Sickness and in Death: researching the ill-health and deaths of your ancestors’ students were discussing asylum records this very week and even better, one has kindly volunteered to look up some potential records about great great aunt that are not online – aren’t people lovely? Now, if any kind soul is at the London Metropolitan Archives with a spare five minutes to investigate her stay in another asylum………
The great thing about running online courses is that you learn so much from your students. You may have spotted a Facebook post from me that referred to the list of 1832 cholera epidemic victims in Manchester. The transcription of this dataset is cunningly hidden away on FindmyPast and what a gem! For the benefit of those not on Facebook, here is the entry for 16 year old Elizabeth Aspin ‘No. 177, Elizabeth Aspin, commonly called Crazy Bess, aged 16. Residence Back Parliament-street. Employment: woman of the town. Constitution: stoutish. Natural susceptibility: subject to diarrhoea after drinking. Predisposing cause: alternately starved and drunk, often sleeping in the street. Exciting cause: drunk on the Reform celebration day the day before her attack, cried passionately when Laurence was taken to the hospital. Locality, crowding, filth &c. for the locality see case 181. Dates of attack and event: seized Friday, August 10th, at 11 pm, recovered August 30th. Communication or non-communication: no known communication with Laurence nor any body else.’ Further research suggests that she was baptised in Manchester in 1817, daughter of Thomas and Ellen and that she survived the epidemic, marrying George Townley in Radcliffe, Manchester in 1836 and moving to Salford.
Advance notice of a couple of book signing/buying opportunities. I will be giving a talk about Barefoot on the Cobbles as well as selling and signing books at The Wine Box in Torquay at 2.00pm on Friday 8th November – wine and books – how can you resist? I am especially pleased about this, as part of the novel is set in Torquay. I will also be at Torrington Craft Fair on 7 December with copies of all my books. A few people have asked if they can get copies of my books at RootsTechLondon. I will have a limited number copies of Remember Then, as that is the subject of my talk but I am travelling in on public transport so will only have other titles if you ask in advance. I need to know by 9 October. I could mention that the festive season is only however many weeks away but I won’t.