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Welcome to the September 2015 Edition of the FFHS Ezine                                                         No 55

Write up your family history

Medieval muster rolls

Merchant Navy Crew Lists

Coventry pawnbroker archive on CD

Metcalfe Muster

Surgeons at Sea

How we used to live

This Month's Book Giveaway

Family-history fairs

Suffolk FHS celebrates 40 years

Salvation Army archives

Elizabeth Garrett Anderson

Our Really Useful Information Leaflet

Connect with us on Twitter and Facebook

Book Reviews

Diary Dates

Advertise with us

Competition Winners

Write up your family history Writing
Most family historians would like to share the stories they discover through their research. It can be challenging to get started though! How do you turn your notes, family trees and memorabilia into a story that others will want to read?

A good way to begin is with 'Family Fables – How to Write and Publish the Story of your Family' by Maisie Robson with Steve Rudd. It’s a great book on how to organise and write a family history. The good news is that we have a copy to giveaway – see This Month’s Book Giveaway. The winner will also win a critique of a family-history short story they’ve written, which FFHS will publish on its website. A great opportunity to get started! See a review of the book on our website. Another source of tips and ideas are blogs. An example is Brandy Heineman’s, '57 Angles, Tips, & Prompts for Writing Your Family History'. It has lots of story angles, creative tips and writing prompts to inspire you.

If it’s your writing skills that are holding you back, why not sign up for a creative-writing course? There are many starting at this time of year and there may be a suitable one close to where you live. There are specialised family-history-writing courses on offer too. For example, professional genealogist Gill Blanchard is running a course starting in October in Norwich, which guides participants through the different phases of writing and developing a family history. The Society of Genealogists also runs specialised family-history-writing courses in London; or perhaps consider an online course. You will be able to brush up your writing skills and share your work with others, who will help you improve until you feel ready to publish.


The Battle of AgincourtMedieval muster rolls
On 15 October we mark the 600th anniversary of the Battle of Agincourt. This historic conflict took place between King Henry V’s troops and the French, and was forever immortalised by William Shakespeare in Henry V. This battle was the turning point in the Hundred Years War. Henry V’s victory over the French eventually led to him marrying the French King’s daughter and their son became the heir to the French throne. Amazingly, although this battle took place six centuries ago, it is possible to find out if one of your medieval ancestors was on the battlefield. Search the muster roll database from 1369–1453 on The Soldier in Medieval England Database.If you find an individual, you will be given a reference number for the relevant muster roll that you can put into The National Archives Discovery Catalogue which brings up the record details. You may need to pay to have a copy sent to you, or you can look at it for free if you go to Kew.


Merchant Navy Crew ListsBadge of the British Merchant Navy
You can now search records of thousands of merchant seaman online. With the help of volunteers, The National Archives has completed a project with the National Maritime Museum and the Crew List Index Project (CLIP) to transcribe the Crew Lists and Agreements from the Merchant Navy for 1915. The Merchant Navy is the UK's commercial shipping industry. Though no records of individual merchant seamen and women survive for the First World War, the Crew Lists and Agreements for 1915 enable you to search almost a million names of those at sea during that year.

You can search by an individual’s name or the name of the ship. Once you have searched the records by name, you will not only have the ship they were serving on at the time but also the name of the ship they were on for the previous voyage. You may have multiple returns for your ancestor for 1915. This is because they will be recorded on every voyage they made during that year. You can keep using the ‘previous ship’ to carry on tracing your mariner back beyond 1915, but you will need to refer to crew lists that have not been transcribed as part of this project. The results of your search could be from record series BT 99 and BT 100, which are held by The National Archives, or BT 400, which is held by The National Maritime Museum.

The crew lists for other years are held in a number of different archives. You can search Discovery by ship’s number to see if they are held at The National Archives. Many crew lists are held by the Maritime History Archive and you can search their catalogue by ship’s number. You may also be interested in the log books for the ships’ your ancestors served on. These are held by The National Archives in series BT 165 and are currently being catalogued. Go to Discovery advanced search and type in the ship’s name and restrict your search to series BT 165.  These are original documents and you will need to visit The National Archives in Kew to view them or order a copy.


Pawnbroker's TicketCoventry pawnbroker archive on CD
Coventry Family History Society has published an unusual and interesting resource based on a collection of newly discovered pawnbroker tickets.

People used a pawnbroker because they needed a loan. They would take an item to be pawned and would get the item back if they repaid the loan plus interest within the time agreed. Otherwise the pawnbroker would sell the item.  A team at the society has archived and transcribed the tickets, which were found by a builder working at 118 Gosford Street, Coventry. More then came to light in a loft! In total there were several thousand dating from 1915 to 1923, issued by Wm Brookes of 118 Gosford Street and 1–2 Silver Street, Coventry. The project team had to first of all clean the filthy tickets, then record what colour they were, the reference number, surname and forename of the customer, and address. They also catalogued what items were handed in and the amount of money loaned. The tickets are fascinating, drawing us into a small Coventry community during the First World War. With men away, women pawned whatever they had to get by, and were so poor that often all they had to 'hock' were possessions like bedlinen, or even underwear.

The Coventry Family History Society Pawnbrokers' Tickets CD is available from: Bookshop, 88 Howes Lane, Coventry CV3 6PJ. Payment is by cheque to 'Coventry FHS' for £5 plus £1 UK p&p. For more information email bookshop@covfhs.org.


Metcalfe Muster
The Metcalfe Society will hold its 35th annual Mecca Muster and AGM on Saturday 3 October 2015, in Leyburn, North Yorkshire. Founded in 1980,the Metcalfe Society is a thriving and respected one-name study group, with almost 1,900 members past and present, home and overseas. It is dedicated to supporting anyone interested in their Metcalfe (and all spelling variants) family history and acts as the principal link between branches in the home country and those settled worldwide. You can find them on Facebook.  If you have a Metcalfe in your tree, you will be very welcome to join the Muster, whether you are a member or non-member. If you’d like to attend, email muster@metcalfe.org for details.


Convict Ship NeptuneSurgeons at Sea
Did any of your ancestors travel to Australia in a convict ship? If so, take a look at 'Surgeons at Sea'. A team from Newcastle Family History Society Inc., New South Wales, Australia, has compiled the CD, which includes an index to the surgeons' journals that were kept on convict ships to Australia and are now microfilmed.  The main 'The People' database lists over 50,000 people recorded in surgeons’ journals: convicts and their children, soldiers, crew, free settlers and their families, and even colonial officers. Where possible, the status and age of each individual and their medical condition or punishment is given. The person's ship and year of arrival is also included, along with the name of the surgeon and the number of the film. The records were compiled from 670 ships' journals and date from 1817 to the end of transportation, though not all journals survived. Short biographies of individual surgeons are also included.

In compiling the CD, the team came to the conclusion that while some of the early voyages were horrific, with many deaths and much illness among prisoners on arrival, these events brought about radical changes that ensured that many subsequent sailings were accomplished without loss of life and with all on-board arriving fit and well. They drew this conclusion after reading the surgeons' own notes which gave an idea of what it was like to journey under sail to Australia on a transport ship. 'Surgeons at Sea', edited by Ken Shilling, costs $50 plus postage and requires Internet Explorer to run. For details of how to order, email kenandmaree@gmail.com.


Tram at the Beamish Open Air MuseumHow we used to live
With the half-term holiday on the horizon, it’s the perfect opportunity to get your children and grandchildren interested in how their ancestors lived. Why not pay a visit to one of the ‘living museums’ around the country? They usually run hands-on activities and events during the school holidays. Here are a few suggestions to inspire to you:

  • Blists Hill is one of the Ironbridge Gorge Museums near Telford. Visitors experience life as it was over 100 years ago through the sights, sounds, smells and tastes of a recreated Victorian Town, alongside characters who go about their daily lives in their cottages, shops and places of work.
  • Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse in Norfolk shows what you could expect from life 150 years ago if you were unfortunate enough to become destitute. In a fascinating and touching way, children will see what happened when you were left with no choice but to take yourself and your family into the workhouse. This site includes a ‘village row’, school house and working farm.
  • Beamish, The North of England Open Air Museum is a giant site in County Durham. It is easily navigable by trams, charabancs and omnibuses and dedicated to showcasing how people lived in the 19th and 20th centuries.
  • Summerlee – The Museum of Scottish Life is an industrial museum for the whole family. Explore the recreated mine and miners’ cottages, alongside working machinery and period room settings in the vast exhibition hall.

Please check websites before visiting for up-to-date visitor information including ticket prices.

Image © Copyright Colin Smith and licensed for reuse under Creative Commons Licence.


This Month's Book Giveaway

Family Fables – How to Write and Publish the Story of your Family by Maisie Robson with Steve Rudd, The King’s England Press Family Fables book cover

We have a copy of this excellent book to give away. In this updated and revised edition, the author, Maisie Robson, successfully shows how to apply creative writing techniques to turn your family history into a readable, coherent work that others might actually enjoy reading! The author offers advice over nine chapters on a variety of topics including writing biography, organising your material and structuring your book, characters, time and place, plot, conflict and tension. Chapter 10 covers how to get your work published with the final chapter suggesting how to ‘limber up’ with some creative-writing exercises. A useful bibliography is included. The author will also give a free critique of a short family story written by the competition winner, and FFHS will then publish the story on its website.

We have one copy to give away.  To enter this draw, send an email with ‘Fables’ in the subject line to competitions@ffhs.org.uk before 17 October 2015.

A review of this book is available on the FFHS website.


Creative Craft Shows logoFamily-history fairs
Why not visit a family-history fair this autumn? It’s a great opportunity to meet experts in genealogy who will be very happy to give you advice on how to grow your family tree. There is a series of fairs planned for the coming months: see Diary Dates for details. If the event is close to you, do take your research and go along.  Remember, it doesn’t matter if your ancestors weren’t from the area, as the societies attending are sure to be able to help you and suggest some new avenues to explore, wherever your family came from. The Federation of Family History Societies is also on the road over the next few months and we’d be delighted to meet you! Pop along to our stand at one of the following events and let us help you with those brick walls:


Suffolk FHS celebrates 40 years People at Suffolk FHS 40th anniversary reception
On Saturday July 4th, in Needham Market, members of Suffolk Family History Society gathered to celebrate their 40th anniversary. The anniversary reception saw the gathering of some 70 members, several of whom were amongst the very first to join the society or one of its groups. They made the most of the opportunity to chat, renew old friendships and to recall past and present achievements of the society. Originally named Suffolk Genealogy Society and founded in Lowestoft in 1975, the society soon spawned several regional groups, each with their own programme of locally based activities, six of which continue to meet regularly today. Kate Chantry, speaking on behalf of Suffolk Record Office, expressed gratitude to the society for its publishing ventures; long-standing co-operation with SRO and the valuable work it has done on the transcription of records, all of which has played a significant part in facilitating the services that SRO are able to offer. Congratulations to Suffolk Family History Society and we look forward to the next 40 years.


Salvation Army archives
On 2 July the ‘Sally Army’ celebrated its 150th anniversary. This organisation was founded in 1865 by William and Catherine Booth, who believed that charity demeaned the individual, and instead they wanted to offer people a 'hand up' and not a 'hand out'. By 1884 The Salvation Army had opened a women's rescue home in Whitechapel for those fleeing domestic violence and prostitution. It followed with maternity hospitals and homes. If you think a family member may have passed through one of these facilities you may be able to find out more about them from the Salvation Army’s archive. Kevin Pooley, Social Historian at the charity told FFHS that:

"The records we hold from the Salvation Army’s former maternity hospitals and homes mostly take the form of discharge records giving a small amount of basic information.  For some homes we have maternity registers which have details such as time of birth and birth weight, and in a very few cases we have files which include original correspondence. People born in our homes and hospitals, as well as women who gave birth in them, get in touch with us for information or in the hope of making contact.  By law we are required to deal with such cases in co-operation with Adoption Support Agencies (ASAs), who must be registered through Ofsted.  These ASAs are able to share the information we provide with the person making the enquiry, and can offer counselling as well as advising on the question of making contact.  Enquiries from other birth relatives are handled in a similar way. For enquiries that are more than 75 years old we are able to provide information on a “family history” basis, direct to the enquirer.  More detailed early records sometimes mean that in cases more than about a hundred years old the information available can actually be more detailed than is the case with more recent material."

If you would like to make an enquiry, email heritage@salvationarmy.org.uk.


Elizabeth Garrett AndersonElizabeth Garrett Anderson
On 28 September it will be 150 years since Elizabeth Garrett Anderson graduated as Britain’s first woman doctor. Despite great opposition from the male medical establishment, Elizabeth went on to co-found the first hospital staffed by women. She also became the first dean of a British medical school. Those interested in researching medical history, including Elizabeth’s working life, should turn to the Wellcome Library. Its Archives and Manuscript Collection is the primary source for the study of medical history. The Library is currently developing an online resource by digitising a substantial proportion of their holdings and making the content freely available on the Web. The Library itself contains over 9000 manuscripts and over 800 archive collections from the United Kingdom and Europe. The material (in some 25 different languages) dates from antiquity to the 21st century. It includes: personal and family papers, correspondence, notebooks and diaries of scientists, GPs and others; records of charities, campaigning organisations, and pressure groups; records of professional bodies, businesses and research institutions; and the Wellcome Archives, including Henry Wellcome's personal papers, the Wellcome Foundation archives, and records of the Wellcome Historical Medical Museum.


Our Really Useful Information Leaflet
In August FFHS published updated editions of our essential resources for genealogy. They are online and you can download them for free. The first, 'Our Really Useful Information Leaflet', is a comprehensive guide to family-history research in the British Isles.  We also published the second edition of 'Our Australasian Really Useful Information Leaflet', to coincide with National Family History Month in Australasia. This was developed to help family historians in Australia trace their tree. It is particularly useful for those Australasians from British descent, and is also a mine of information for UK researchers with ancestors who were transported to Australasia or who emigrated there.


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Book Reviews

To read reviews of recently published books of interest to family historians.

visit our Book Review Page.

Ezine Competitions and Winners

All competitions are subject to our Terms & Conditions as published on our website.

A full list of Ezine competition winners can be seen on the FFHS website.

view competition winners.

Diary Dates

For a list of events visit GENEVA.

Doncaster & District Family History Society Fair, 26 September 2015, Doncaster
Fenland Family History Day, 26 September 2015, Wisbech
Oxfordshire Family History Fair, 3 October 2015, Woodstock
35th Annual Metcalfe Muster and AGM, 3 October 2015, Leyburn, North Yorkshire
Glamorgan Family History Fair, 10 October 2015, Merthyr Tydfil
HGS Hampshire Family History Open Day, 11 October 2015, Basingstoke
Cumbrian Family and Local History Fair, 24 October 2015, Carlisle
Romany & Traveller Family History Society Open Day, 24 October, Abbots Langley
West Surrey FHS Open Day and Family History Fair, 31 October 2015, Woking
The Stitching, Sewing & Hobbycrafts Show, 5–8 November 2015, NEC, Birmingham
Huddersfield & District Family & Local History Fair, 14 November 2015, Huddersfield
The Stitching, Sewing & Hobbycrafts Show, 19–21 November 2015, ExCeL, London