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Professional genealogist Anthony Adolph tells us more about how wills can help our family history research.
In the last issue, we looked at wills, and what they can tell you. Whether written by rich or poor ancestors, they will often name spouses and children, and perhaps other relatives, thus helping to prove and extend family trees in a way few other records can. They are thus one of the most useful building blocks in genealogical research.
John Hannavy explores England's history as a maritime trading nation.“You know you’re getting old when…” is the opening of many a one-liner, but “You know you’re getting old when you can use some of your own photographs to illustrate an historical article” is not one I have come across until now…
One of my first professional assignments was in Manchester Docks in the 1960s, taking photographs for publication in a weekly encyclopaedia.
Professional genealogist Anthony Adolph shows how to use wills to help trace your family tree, and to find out more about your ancestors.
Wills may not be amongst the first things you would think of seeking when researching your family tree, but they can be amongst the most useful. They are documents written by people (who in this context we call “testators”) stating what they want to happen to their property after they have died. They are profoundly helpful to genealogists because, more often than not, testators leave their property to relations, and this makes a will a treasure house of genealogical details.
Anthony Adolph helps you decipher “old writing”.
One of the greatest problems you will face in starting your family history is not so much being unable to find the right records, as being able to read what they say. The problem is not a new one, and alongside genealogy there has always been another discipline, called Palaeography: the study of “old writing”.
Rachel Bellerby helps you find out more about servants in a grand house or on one of England’s country estates.
Nowadays, only the wealthiest people in society employ servants, but as recently as 100 years ago, employing one or more servants was a mark of status, and was within the reach of those in the upper-middle classes. Whether working on the land, living in at a grand mansion, or toiling as a maid of all work, thousands of England’s servants have left traces of their existence in the country’s archives.
Having first come to the attention of the British public thanks to the BBC’s family history series Who Do You Think You Are?, Dr Nick Barratt is almost always referred to as “Nick Barratt – ancestral history expert” or “Nick Barratt – genealogy guru”. However, Nick modestly describes himself simply as a historian – and goes to great lengths to explain that he became involved in all things ancestral (and television) purely by chance.